Watching Grass Grow: Prolonged Pain for Tavern on the Green Bidders

July has come and (really) gone, and the Parks Department has yet to choose a bidder to run the legendarily profitable Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park.

This spring, when the department was giving potential bidders tours of the premises, Parks officials made vague statements about issuing a decision in July. It being Aug. 21, at least one bidder is getting a tad antsy.

“It’s a very uncomfortable position, as you can imagine,” said Shelley Clark, spokeswoman for current Tavern on the Green leaseholder Jennifer Oz LeRoy, comely daughter of the late Warner LeRoy, the former operator of the romantic tourist trap. “We’ve submitted our proposals. We’ve answered follow-up questions. … We are aware that they have made phone calls checking on various things. But we have not had any communication in quite some time.”

Ms. Clark later estimated that the last time her client heard from the department was in late July. Neither she nor Dean Poll, the operator of the Central Park Boathouse and a bidder, have been told when to expect a decision. The reported third bidder, Capitale owner Seth Greenberg, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Parks Department is overseeing the bidding process because the restaurant sits on the west side of Central Park, at 67th Street. Ms. LeRoy’s lease expires at the end of this year. The bidders are vying for a 20-year concession that starts on Jan. 1, 2010.

In a statement, Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said, “It is not unusual for the review process for a complicated concession like this one to take some time. There needs to be a thorough analysis of the complicated operational, financial, and capital requirements of the RFP to ensure that the most qualified proposer is selected. The Parks Department is continuing the review and taking the time needed to make the right decision.”

drubinstein@observer.com

Watching Grass Grow: Prolonged Pain for Tavern on the Green Bidders