Battle Over Tavern On The Green

The iconic New York restaurant “Tavern on the Green” is a debtor in a bankruptcy proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York. That’s kind of too bad. But now there’s a major skirmish over the rights to the name. On October 22, the City of New York filed a complaint in the Bankruptcy proceeding asking the court to declare that the city, and no the restaurant operator, owns the trademark. LeRoy Adventures, Inc., the current operator, operates the restaurant under a license granted by the city in 1973. The city grants the license because the restaurant is located in a building in Central Park that was once a sheepfold. The building began operation as a restaurant in 1934 (hopefully after a thorough cleaning). According to the complaint, “the name ‘Tavern on the Green’ has acquired secondary meaning and become inseparably and singularly associated in the minds of consumers with the restaurant at its location in Central Park in the landmark premises it occupies.” The value of the mark is estimated to by $19 million, making it the biggest asset in the proceeding. The city is concerned that if the operator is deemed the mark owner, it could open a “Tavern on the Green” at another location. So the stakes are high. I just hope if there are depositions in the case, someone asks the operator how in good conscience they can charge $22 for a club sandwich. Yikes.