Plan to Sell Booze at Tavern on the Green Upsets Upper West Side Residents
By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A bid to sell hard booze at a fancy food truck outside Tavern on the Green has some residents worried.
Community Board 7 members say selling beer, wine and spirits out of the trucks could lead to under-age drinking and people wandering the streets with liquor in hand.
"If somebody wants to enjoy a coffee with a shot of Bailey's in it, we have to be able to serve that," Burak Karacam, owner of Pera, one of four food trucks that will open for business Friday on the Tavern's terrace, told Community Board 7's business and consumer issues committee Wednesday night.
The city is still looking for a restaurateur to take over the Tavern on the Green space, but in the meantime the Parks Department is contracting with Pera, Ladle of Love, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream and Rickshaw Dumpling Truck to peddle high-end treats outside the Tavern.
Backers for Pera, which will sell Turkish tacos and other Mediterranean dishes, told Community Board 7 Wednesday night they want to stock vodka, gin, scotch, wine and beer in their truck.
That didn't sit well some Community Board members.
"How do you keep people from walking out on the street with drinks?" said board member Ulma Jones. "You're not allowed to carry a beer on the sidewalk in New York and people are going to do that."
Board member Marc Glazer said selling spirits from the trucks could lead to underage drinking.
"In a bar or restaurant there's an ID procedure to get into the place, but here I could walk up and get a beer for my teenage friend," Glazer said.
The committee granted initial approval to move ahead with a liquor license; the full board will vote on the matter at its Nov. 3 meeting.
Karacam said Thursday he understands board members' concerns and will work with the Central Park Conservancy, the Parks Department and the State Liquor Authority to make sure the alcohol sales run smoothly.
"Some of the concerns they had were valid ones and they will be addressed," Karacam said. "There are other concessions within parks which have similar situations where they sell liquor outdoors and the parks' experience to date has been non-problematic."
Parks officials say alcohol has been sold successfully in other parts of the park. The Ballfields Café on the north side of the Heckscher Ballfields, the Mineral Springs Cafe and the Boathouse all serve alcohol without incident, said Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson.
At Tavern, drinking will only be allowed in the terrace area. Trucks will leave by 10 p.m. and no music will be allowed.
Ladle of Love says it plans to offer beer, wine and seasonal mixed drinks, and Rickshaw Dumplings lists beer and sake on its Tavern truck menu. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream doesn't plan to serve anything stronger than espresso.
Ladle of Love manager K.C. Playford said she understood the concern about alcohol, but said her truck "will absolutely" check IDs.
"Obviously we would card anyone," Playford said. She added, "There is a very segmented area, and the courtyard will be the only place where they'll be allowed to consume the beverages."