UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- After being closed for more than a year, New York City's famed Tavern on the Green is reopening.
"I think people can expect to be welcomed with open arms by a staff that had a really hard year but coming back, trickling in, it's like they never left," said Jim Caiola, owner.
Owner Caiola told Eyewitness News that coming back to the restaurant was like seeing a good friend for the first time in a long time.
The Central Park restaurant, which first opened in 1934, will reopen its doors after 13 months on Thursday. Caiola had to make the agonizing decision to close when the pandemic first hit.
"It was very traumatic, but honestly I really thought it was going to be a two-week-long closure," Caiola said.
When two weeks turned into two months, he sent his staff home, which depending on the season can range from 250 to 400 people.
But now that more people are getting vaccinated, he decided it was time to reopen.
Due to the pandemic still ongoing, Tavern on the Green plans to reopen at 50% capacity.
Although tourism is down in the city, Caiola is hopeful they will still have customers.
"I think the bucket list tourist will hopefully be replaced by locals who aren't fighting their way in here anymore, because the tourists aren't here, so it can be their neighborhood spot," he said.
Aside from the indoor dining, people can also partake in outdoor food and beverages its Main Courtyard located across from Central Park's Sheep's Meadow, its Beer Garden located at the front of the restaurant, and its South Terrace, typically used as a covered outdoor events space.
If you don't want to stick around to dine and want to take your food to-go so you can explore Central Park, there's also a "To-Go" window.
It has fresh selections from Veggie Frittata, a Jumbo Shrimp and Guacamole Wrap, a Cheese and Charcuterie Plate perfect for park snacking, and even a full drink menu including wine, beer, and cocktails to-go.
Guests can order ahead online from the park and will receive a text alert when their order is ready for contact-free pick up at the window, which is located facing the park on the south side of Tavern's Main Courtyard.
"To say that we are excited to open our doors again is an understatement," said Jim Caiola, Co-Owner of Tavern on the Green. "Tavern is more than just a restaurant, it is a place for New Yorkers to unwind, relax in the heart of Central Park, and feel some kind of normalcy again. The past year has tested our industry, and we have come back more resilient and innovative than ever. It has been powerful to see how restaurants have adapted and we so look forward to bringing back such a special offering, whether our guests are coming in for dinner in the iconic Central Park Room, or grabbing a cheese plate and cocktails to enjoy in the park."
If you'd like to check out Tavern on the Green the hours of operation are:
- Monday - Friday: 11 a.m. -10 p.m. (lunch 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., bar/lounge menu available in between lunch & dinner)
- Saturday: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. (brunch 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., bar/lounge menu available in between lunch & dinner)
- Sunday: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. (brunch 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., bar/lounge menu available in between lunch & dinner)
- To-Go window: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily
Diners can also make reservations on tavernonthegreen.com or by phone at 212-877-TOTG (8684).
Walk-ins will also be accepted, but availability will not be guaranteed.