New Boss

Dean Poll, You’ve Just Won Tavern on the Green!

Photo: Courtesy Tavern on the Green

Earlier today, the Parks Department announced it has awarded Dean Poll, the operator of the Central Park Boathouse, the contract to run its pastoral brother, Tavern on the Green. Cited as deciding factors pushing Poll’s bid over the longtime operators, the LeRoys, were Poll’s “imaginative business plan, solid financial backing, substantial capital investment, and a design and renovation plan that respects the historic elements of the original structure.” We talked to Dean Poll — strangely easy to reach! — about his plans.

What are some of the changes you’ll be making to Tavern?
We’re going to do a major renovation, but I’ve been describing it as not renovating a restaurant but as we’re restoring a building. The building is a very significant building in Central Park.

So what does this “restoration” entail?
I look forward to having a landscape where you can see the building. There’s a lot of overgrown stuff there now. We’ve retained Innocenti and Webel as landscape architects. That was in our proposal.

Inside, it is going to be substantially different. It’s going to be a new era. I want to draw both the older and younger people, everyone who would enjoy the Green. I think the way the LeRoys did it was proper for the seventies. But now it is a new time. It’s going to be comfortable. It’s going to blend in with the park. It’s going to have a large bar-lounge downstairs and we’re going to eliminate that maze of a hallway.

Who else is on your team?
The interior design will be done by Foley and Cox and the architect is Nick Koutsomitis, an NYC-based firm that has done a lot of preservation work.

Is it too early to talk about the menu?
It’ll be American influence. It’s not going to be French or German or Cajun like Commander’s Palace. Tavern is a place where people want to eat. It’s not a theme restaurant. It’s a park restaurant. You need to have a menu where the masses will feel comfortable eating.

Well, congratulations. I look forward to eating with the masses.
I appreciate the congratulations, but I have a lot of work to do. It is a tremendous undertaking that will require a lot of work. I have to go there and meet the staff and see what I’m going to be dealing with. There are plans and permits to get taken care of. This is a very serious proposition.

Earlier: City Now Accepting Proposals for Tavern on the Green

Dean Poll, You’ve Just Won Tavern on the Green!