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History & Renovation

Originally designed by Calvert Vaux, Tavern on the Green was built as a sheep fold in the 1880’s to house the 700 Southdown sheep that grazed in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. Robert Moses transformed the building in to a restaurant in 1934, as part of his park renovation. Through the next few decades, Tavern underwent several changes in management, but the iconic view of the park, and the addition of a dance floor, outdoor seating, and lavish menu, kept prominent actors, musicians, and public figures coming back to the restaurant to dine, drink, and celebrate.

After a hiatus starting in 2009, the city searched diligently for a new operator to reopen the iconic restaurant in 2013. The city selected current owners and restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama, previously of Philadelphia, who would bring a fresh, welcoming approach to Tavern. The duo renovated the restaurant with inviting décor and wood paneling reminiscent of the original sheep fold, and, with a seasonal menu more reflective of Greater New York, reopened Tavern on the Green in April 2014.


Tavern on the Green begins life as a Gothic Revival sheepfold housing 200 Southdown sheep.


Sheepfold becomes a restaurant as part of a Robert Moses park renovation. 

Sheep banished to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

1940's - 50's

The dance floor was enlarged and a large outdoor patio was added, in addition the Elm Tree Room was built.

This picture shows ladies that lunch over Lobster Newburg.


Tavern lavishly reincarnated by Warner LeRoy. Crystal Room added. Celebrities dine amidst brass, Tiffany-stained glass, and Baccarat chandeliers.


Tavern on the Green returns to its inviting, tavern-inspired roots. Local and artisanal food becomes the forefront of the experience. Live sheep still unwelcome.

A Film Icon

Reinforcing its iconic status and cinematic style, Tavern on the Green has been prominently featured or mentioned in numerous films over the years including:

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

It’s My Turn (1980)

Arthur (1981)

Only When I Laugh (1981)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Heartburn (1986)

Wall Street (1987)

Arthur 2 (1988)

Beaches (1988)

New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks (1989)

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Stella (1990)

Whispers in the Dark (1992)

The Night We Never Met (1993)

The Out-of-Towners (1999)

It Had to be You (2000)

Hall of Mirrors (2001)

Made (2001)

Alfie (2004)

New York, I Love You (2008)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)