Less than two years after it announced grand plans for a national expansion, Tavern on the Green, a New York landmark, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York.
Tavern on the Green, which has appeared in such films as "Arthur", "Wall Street" and "New York Stories", and where generations have celebrated weddings, anniversaries, graduations, was taken over by Warner LeRoy more than 25 years ago. It was once one of the most successful restaurants in the country. A $40 million dollar operation with a staff of 525 and nearly 500,000 patrons annually, the restaurant is known for its prime location in Central Park in addition to its beautiful garden and its elaborate decor of crystal, mirrors and Tiffany ceilings. Its eclectic menu consisted of contemporary American and seasonal fare.
Before the bankruptcy filing was made, the restaurant was already scheduled to close on December 31st, as a new 20-year license was sold to another operator, which also runs the Central Park Boathouse restaurant. In the meantime, Tavern on the Green will continue to operate and take reservations for the rest of this year.
This isn't the first time the LeRoy family's restaurant empire has been negatively impacted by tough economic times. In 1998, LeRoy took over and reopened the Russian Tea Room, another iconic restaurant in midtown Manhattan. In July 2002, his family was forced to make the decision to close the Russian Tea Room. According to its website, the closing was "yet another casualty of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the dramatic resulting downturn in the New York economy." The Russian Tea Room eventually reopened under new owners and management.
Only one block away from Tavern on the Green, another fabled restaurant, Cafe des Artistes, has also shuttered its doors. It also filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection on September 9th.