Union remains a key factor in Tavern on the Green’s future

New York Times — May 23, 2010

As the New York Times reports, the New York Hotel Trades Council continues to be an important factor at Tavern on the Green as new restaurateurs announce their interest in operating the restaurant:




As New York City, the landlord of Tavern on the Green, heads toward a possible smackdown with Donald J. Trump, the Cipriani company and other potential operators interested in taking over the landmark restaurant in Central Park, the question arises: Can future bidders come to an agreement with the powerful Hotel and Motel Trades Council labor union?

After all, on Thursday, six months of negotiations collapsed between Dean J. Poll - the restaurateur who was expected to become the operator of Tavern - and the union that represents its 400 former employees.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that Tavern would become an interim visitor center, snack bar and retail shop until, "based on the proposals and the success of the venue," he said, "we'll decide whether or not to run all or part of it back into a restaurant."

Despite the personal intervention of the mayor and his representatives in the continuing negotiations this year, Mr. Poll and the union were far apart on many issues that included salaries, pension provisions and arbitration procedures, according to several people with knowledge of the talks, who asked for anonymity citing the mayor's ban on discussion of the negotiations.

The mayor has every intention of reopening Tavern as a restaurant, several people close to the negotiations said, but timing and the economy will be important. Publicly the mayor said that "we'll solicit new proposals" if the city deems that the demand among restaurateurs is there.

Already a clutch of operators has expressed interest, including Mr. Trump, who said about future labor negotiations that "Tavern was union before, and you would expect it to be union again." He added, "I know that union, and they are very fine people."

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