Diners will give last orders Thursday at Tavern on the Green, the storied New York restaurant known as much for its opulent decor of Tiffany murals and etched mirrors as for the sumptuous food.
The restaurant, opened in 1934 in Central Park at the height of the Great Depression, is bowing to modern economic pressures with the decision to close January 1 due to bankruptcy.
AdvertisementBut fans of the Tavern, where John Lennon used to drop by and play the piano, won't be entirely starved: the over-the-top interior is being stripped out and put on the auction block January 13-15.
Baccarat chandeliers, Tiffany stained-glass murals, mirrors, copper weathervanes, silver candelabras, and place settings are among the items listed for sale.
On Tuesday, almost 1,000 people were taking a last chance to lunch at the Tavern despite freezing temperatures and wind sweeping the west side of Manhattan's famed park near 67th Street.
Inside, visitors of all ages and nationalities, both locals and tourists, wandered about gazing at the maze of themed areas, like the "Crystal Room."
Sandy McKelvy from Knoxville, Tennessee said she was returning after a visit a decade ago that had left a lasting impression.
"It was summer and they had a wedding in the 'Gazebo,' I was so impressed... Too bad that they have to close."
Hostess Carly Martinez said there were 830 lunch reservations and 1,300 for dinner. The final New Year's Eve party is sold out at 126 dollars a person, not including drinks, taxes or service charge.
But that popularity and a side business in VIP nights and hosting of press conferences and awards ceremonies have not been enough to stave off collapse for the 550-employee establishment.
"The bankruptcy is not finished yet, it (the bankruptcy) will be closed on February 14th," said chief operating officer Michael Desiderio.
"It's not because it is always full that we can cope. To upkeep the building is very expensive and then we have a lease which comes to its end and is not renewed."
The decision to declare bankruptcy was taken by Jennifer Oz LeRoy after the city declined to renew the lease.
LeRoy's father Warner LeRoy took over the dining spot in the early 1970s and spent what was then an unheard of sum of 10 million dollars to create a fantasy land.
Warner LeRoy, son of "Wizard of Oz" producer Mervyn LeRoy, was described by the New York Times as a "mad genius."
Arlan Ettinger from Guernsey's Auction House, who will be the auctioneer, said this was a "sad" end of an era for an establishment originally built on the site of a sheep pen.
However, he said he expected keen interest in the colorful contents.
"John Lennon came here frequently, he played this piano, he used to celebrate his birthdays here," Ettinger said.
"A man from the Middle East called, he is interested in five chandeliers," he added.