The culinary world shed several tears on September 9, 2009. Not one, but two legendary restaurants in Manhattan officially filed for bankruptcy last Wednesday, to the chagrin of chefs and gourmands the world over. Tavern on the Green was previously scheduled to close its celebrated doors on December 31, but only because the city chose to award the 20-year license to Dean J. Poll of Central Park Boathouse restaurant. In a report from the New York Times, Jennifer Oz LeRoy, chief executive of Tavern on the Green explained the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as, “our only alternative given the current situation,” which 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 license.” In its heyday, Tavern on the Green could have easily catered to close to half-a-million diners, with a $40 million dollar operation and a staff of 525.
While the famed Central Park restaurant will continue to take reservations through the end of the year, one block away, Cafe des Artistes filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The New York eatery closed its doors in August in order to complete many much needed renovations. Now it is clear that the September grand reopening will only be a thing of pipe dreams, as the Manhattan restaurant owes nearly $500,000 its creditors.