Pavilion cafe R.F.P. is served

By Albert Amateau

The Department of Parks on Tuesday issued its long-awaited request for proposals to operate a seasonal cafe at the Union Square Park pavilion.

The R.F.P. says that takeout service for park patrons must be part of the food service, and there is an option to develop a small year-round kiosk in the north plaza of the park with outdoor seating in addition to the pavilion.

Parks is seeking a concessionaire for a single 15-year term to operate the cafe from May 1 to Oct. 31. The same concessionaire could operate the kiosk year-round.

Parks is urging bidders to attend an 11 a.m. June 4 meeting at its headquarters, The Arsenal, on Fifth Ave. at 64th St. Proposals are due at 3 p.m. July 15 at The Arsenal.

The pavilion, built in the early 1930s, is nearing completion as part of a renovation project that includes the entire north end of Union Square Park and the north-end plaza. The proposal for a cafe in the pavilion has generated intense support and opposition from neighbors and park advocates over the past few years.

The R.F.P. says, “Parks will view favorably proposals that to the greatest extent possible use produce from the Greenmarket and farmers/providers associated with the Greenmarket.”

The Greenmarket, founded in 1976, operates four days a week in the north-end plaza and along the park’s western side.

“Parks will also view favorably proposals that incorporate plans for community programming and activities during the cafe’s operating season,” the R.F.P. says.

The proposed cafe space would consist of a 1,584-square-foot main level accessible by new granite stairs and an elevator at the plaza level, plus a 1,150-square-foot basement kitchen level, accessible by elevator and two sets of stairs.

“Proposers may include plans for an outdoor seating area in the North Plaza north of the pavilion structure 17 ft. from the face of the pavilion,” the R.F.P. says. If an outdoor seating area is included in the concession, it must be open to the general public as well as cafe patrons. Alcohol may be served to complement food, but the operator must secure a State Liquor Authority license. Alcoholic beverages may also be served in a cordoned-off area of the plaza seating area, the size and location subject to Parks approval.

The year-round kiosk site would be west of the pavilion and adjacent to the subway entrance along 17th St. where a newsstand used to be. The kiosk area is 12 feet 7 inches by 7 feet, equaling 88 square feet. The kiosk would sell salads, pre-made sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, nonalcoholic beverages, newspapers and magazines, the R.F.P. says.

Public restrooms located on the pavilion’s main floor must remain open to the general public at all times that the cafe is open during the operating season, according to the R.F.P.

During the operating season, the concessionaire will be responsible for cleanup and removal of waste and must comply with recycling rules at the cafe and the kiosk.