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Tavern on the Green Replaced by Food Trucks

The once-glamorous restaurant is now home to ice cream, taco trucks.

ByABC News
October 19, 2010, 5:31 PM

Oct. 20, 2010 — -- It was once the most glamorous spot to eat in the city. Celebrities would flock to Tavern on the Green and its famed Crystal Room, known for spectacular glass walls and twinkling chandeliers. Dinning there wasn't just a meal but an event.

Today, the Crystal Room is gone, replaced by four trucks that pull up each morning and serve, tacos, dumplings, ice cream and sandwiches to Central Park visitors willing to sit outside.

Many New Yorkers would say that Tavern's glory days when Grace Kelly and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia would dine there had long past, that the restaurant had turned into an overpriced, mediocre tourist trap.

But it was still an institution -- one that managed to serve more than 500,000 meals a year. Even before filing for bankruptcy last year, Tavern was Manhattan's top-grossing restaurant, pulling in an estimated $27 million. It was also a movie star, appearing in films including "Edward Scissorhands," "Ghostbusters" and "Wall Street."

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Plans to reopen the restaurant failed when restaurateur Dean Poll and labor unions couldn't agree on a contract.

So forget the white linen tableclothes and heavy silverware. Enter the food trucks and disposable cutlery.

Faced with not having a proper restaurant, the city's parks department transformed Tavern on the Green's grand entrance into a Central Park visitors' center and gift shop.

Shrubs that once hid the restaurant's courtyard have been removed, opening up the space to the nearby Sheep Meadow. And each day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. four food trucks -- Rickshaw Dumpling, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Ladle of Love and Pera Turkish Tacos -- pull into the courtyard and serve diners who sit at nearby tables and benches.