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Plans for New Tavern on the Green Alarm UWS Community Board

By Emily Frost | January 31, 2013 9:30am

UPPER WEST SIDE — The first glimpse of the new Tavern on the Green was unveiled when landscaping designs were shown to a community board this week.

Members of CB7's parks committee viewed landscaping designs for the restaurant, scheduled to open in the fall.

The vision left many concerned.

Among worries were plans to push guests wanting cheaper takeout food to a back entrance, while visitors to the more upscale restaurant access the building through the center.

"What’s coming through is the sense that the takeaway [area] is somehow second class, less desirable," said committee co-chair Klair Neuwalt in response to the presentation.  

"That may not be the case. It might not feel that way [to you], but it’s kind of sounding that way."

As guests enter the main corridor of Tavern on the Green, they'll be greeted by a hostess and have waiter service, with the option to sit inside or in an outdoor courtyard in a restaurant run by the Emerald Green Group. Award-winning Katy Sparks is expected to be the head chef.

The tentative menu has items ranging from $9 for a locally-sourced salad to $33 for a lamb entree. 

CB7 Board Chairman Mark Diller said he was concerned about the layout, designed by landscape architect Robin Key in conjunction with the Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy. 

"You have this incredibly inviting, open-armed building looking to embrace its park users, and you’re led with nice pathways to it and then you’re excluded from it," he said.

"There’s no obvious invitation [to the takeaway area]."

Christopher Nolan, the vice president for capital projects at the Central Park Conservancy, insisted that the landmark would be welcoming to all users and that designers were using the model of the Boat House, which combines a restaurant and an outdoor cafe. 

"The building has changed quite a bit. A significant portion has been demolished, with the idea that the building is going to return to being a building in a park, not a big catering building," Nolan said

Committee members seemed pleased with the quality of the landscaping, but sought more illumination around the building for diners exiting late at night.

According to Key, “the lighting is designed to look like dappled moonlight, a subtle lighting on the roof,“ but no additional lighting beyond what's already along park pathways is planned. 

A sticking point for members was the proposed color of the awning, which Key describes as "a maroon red."

Nolan said that the awning was part of the historical restoration and that it was the color used in 1934.