From By Andrea Tan, Christopher Scinta and Linda Sandler, Bloomberg: Tavern on the Green LP, operator of
the 75-year-old restaurant in New York’s Central Park, sought
bankruptcy protection after losing its lease on the city
property to a higher bidder a month ago.
The restaurant’s name, valued at $19 million and in place
since its founding by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1934,
now will be sold to the highest bidder in bankruptcy court,
according to Keith Costa, a lawyer for the bankrupt partnership.
The lease for Tavern on the Green, the second-highest-
grossing restaurant in the U.S. last year, had been held since
1974 by the family of Warner LeRoy, which owns the Tavern on the
Green name. The city last month awarded the lease for 20 years
starting at the end of Dec. 31 to restaurateur Dean Poll, who
runs the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant.
Poll, who didn’t immediately respond to a call and e-mail
seeking comment, will meet with representatives of the LeRoys
later today, Costa said. If he is interested, then the name
would be sold at auction to the highest bidder, he said.
The bankrupt partnership listed assets and debts of as much
as $50 million each in a filing yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy
Court in Manhattan, with more than 200 creditors. It said it
probably won’t have enough to pay unsecured creditors, after
deducting expenses and exempt property.
“The filing was the result of two factors -- the extreme
financial distress brought on by the current financial crisis
and the City of New York’s decision not to renew our lease,”
Tavern on the Green Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Oz LeRoy
said in a statement.
The restaurant will continue to operate during the
reorganization, she said. Discussions between Poll and LeRoy
representatives include ways to keep operating after Poll takes
over on Jan. 1 and begins to renovate, said Shelley Clark, a
spokeswoman for Jennifer LeRoy.
“We’re working out those things,” she said.
Warner LeRoy, who died in 2001 at age 65 after creating New
York restaurants such as Maxwell’s Plum, was the son of Mervyn
LeRoy, who produced the 1939 Warner Bros. film, “The Wizard of
Oz.” His granddaughter Jennifer will host the entertainment
company’s gala celebration of the film’s 70th anniversary on
Sept. 24 at the Tavern, according to Clark and a spokeswoman for