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CBS 2 Gets A Look Inside $20 Million Tavern On The Green Makeover

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The five-year wait for Central Park's iconic Tavern on the Green restaurant is almost over.

The $20 million total re-do combines whimsy and glitz with an effort to please everyone from morning joggers and dog walkers to foodies seeking a gourmet meal, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported on Monday.

When you walk into the bar at the new Tavern on the Green you are immediately drawn to the Pegasus chandelier -- gold-plated horses flying through the air -- an homage to the Central Park carousel. But it was originally supposed to be for the daughter of the restaurant's two partners.

"Talk about a labor of love -- it took him months to make them," Jim Caiola said. "By the time she was 5 months old and they were done, it seemed odd to put them on the ceiling, which is what they were for. It seemed more like a Russian czar should own them."

The chandelier is the handiwork of Caiola's partner, David Salama. The cost of the rehab doubled the original $9.8 million estimate. That's because it is a landmarked building and the only things salvageable were the wood beams. Everything else had to be rebuilt, replaced and redesigned. It's now a show place from the sheep heads carved into the fireplace to the open modern kitchen.

There's also a take-out window. Morning dog walkers can get a cup of coffee; runners a smoothie and if you want a glass of wine you can come in late in the afternoon and take it to the south terrace.

"Accessible, easy, quick," Salama said. "We've put bike racks … people can pull up, park their bike, bring their dogs, sit down, leave."

The food will offer a little something for everyone. Breakfast, brunch, burgers, a gourmet meal, New York fare with global touches.

"The menu is very much a love letter to New York, so a lot of New York vendors," executive chef Katy Sparks said. "It's a very ingredient-driven menu, but seasonally, so it will change at least four times a year. And then lots of little seasonal tweaks."

"Tavern on the Green has always had room to have some drama, and some theatre and some beauty," Caiola added. "I think it's a much more subtle Tavern on the Green now. But it's ... Tavern on the Green is magical no matter what incarnation it is."

The tab for renovating the city-owned restaurant doubled, but a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while there was some concern about the cost, the mayor is sure it will be a major city asset -- not to mention a gold mine. The city gets a $38 million concession fee over 20 years or a percentage of annual sales, whichever is higher, Kramer reported.

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