MANHATTAN — The city has struck a deal with a restaurant group to bring a seasonal café to the Union Square Pavilion.
Chef Driven Market—which owns 5 Napkin Burger and Barbounia, both with locations near Union Square — will operate the café from April to October beginning in spring 2013, the Parks Department said Wednesday.
“Chef Driven Market LLC submitted an inventive proposal for a seasonal café that will take full advantage of the locally grown and produced fresh food sold at the Union Square Greenmarket,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.
“It will also be a welcome addition to the park’s restored north end, a $20 million project that included the rehabilitation of the north and west plazas.”
The news was originally reported by the blog A Walk in the Park.
Late last year, celebrity Chef Don Pintabona backed out of a deal to open a restaurant called City Farm Café on the park's north end in 2012.
Since then, the city has been searching for a new spot to fill the space, which hasn’t been home to a restaurant since the Luna Café closed in 2007.
The new restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will make use of locally grown produce from the Union Square Greenmarket. The café also plans to offer community and nonprofit events that will be open to the public. Portions of its income will go toward the city’s general fund.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant group declined to comment further on any plans for the new space.
The Parks Department said several organizations, including the Union Square Greenmarket and the Union Square Partnership, came out to support the new plan during a recent Franchise Concession and Review Committee meeting.
But several elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, as well as community advocates have been fighting the prospect of a pavilion restaurant for several years.
When Pintabona backed out of the project this past fall, Stringer said it provided an opportunity for the city “to reconsider their plans and return the pavilion to full-time public and community uses.”
Stringer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the new announcement on Wednesday.
Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates and a member of the Union Square Community Coalition, has also been an outspoken foe of the proposed restaurant plan, arguing that a cafe would deprive the public of valuable open space during the peak spring and summer months.
“This is embarrassing that the mayor continues to go after this space for commercial purposes, clearly to the detriment of children,” Croft said. “That’s a non-park use.”