Maintaining a heating system for a commercial building is of major importance, especially when the comfort of the buildings' patrons relies on it. However, sometimes the heating system has more of an impact on a project than comfort alone.

Take for instance the case of Tavern on the Green, the world-renowned restaurant located in New York City's Central Park. Built in 1870, the initial structure served as a sheepfold until the 1930s when the original Tavern on the Green was launched. In the mid-1970s, the restaurant received a $10 million, two-year renovation that resulted in the lavish restaurant that stands today.

One of New York City's hottest dining destinations, Tavern on the Green attracts its share of political functions, Broadway show openings, and international film premieres and the celebrities that attend these events. Tavern on the Green has even served as the location for filming many movies.

Maintaining the Rolling Boil

The restaurant serves some 600,000 people per year in six different dining rooms. Unless they aren't 100% comfortable, Tavern on the Green's customers probably don't give much more than a fleeting thought to the heating system. They're more concerned with the soup du jour and wine list. However, little do they know that many of their favorite meals would not be possible without the boilers that are used to heat the restaurant. The same boilers that provide space heating for the restaurant also provide steam and hot water for cooking and domestic water requirements.

Needless to say, Tavern on the Green is tough on its boilers. They are used 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide heat for the 27,000-sq-ft restaurant and for cooking its renowned food. Glass walls and ceilings as high as 30 ft in several of the dining areas contribute to a massive heat loss, exacerbating the strain on the boilers.

Smooth functioning of the heating system is crucial to the existence of the famed restaurant. Tavern on the Green's "French Kitchen" operates largely on steam convection. Steam is piped directly from the boilers into the kitchen and is used in a variety of ways. Steam tables, ovens, and kettles are all used in this gourmet kitchen. Steam provides a steady, constant temperature for even cooking and moist food.

Steam convection also enables the chefs to keep large amounts of food warm without any of it drying out - direct air never touches the food - an important feat when serving thousands of guests at one time! Every year, Tavern on the Green hosts a pasta dinner for runners of the New York City Marathon. The evening before the big race, approximately 14,000 runners are served dinner in a span of about five hours.

Dishing up Efficiency

The Tavern's boilers are also used to provide domestic hot water for the restaurant. Steam is piped directly from the boilers to three heat exchangers inside a 2,000-gal hot-water storage tank located in the restaurant's basement. Dishwashing is by far the restaurant's biggest use of domestic hot water. Dishes are washed on an almost constant basis in an industrial strength, automatic dishwasher some 30 ft long.

Recently, Tavern on the Green was in need of a heating system overhaul. Two of the restaurant's three steam boilers needed to be replaced. Since the third would eventually need to be replaced, the decision was made to replace all three boilers at once. However, the restaurant needed to remain open during the project, so one boiler had to function at all times. The completion of the project in a timely, efficient manner was imperative.

The project began with the dismantling of two of the three boilers. They were replaced with two new, 13-section, Series LCE, oil-fired steam boilers from Peerless Heater Company (Boyertown, PA). Once the two new boilers were installed and operating, the third boiler was also replaced with a new Series LCE oil boiler. The three new oil boilers are equipped with Carlin Combustion Technology, Inc. (East Longmeadow, MA) burners that function in step modulation. The boilers are housed in a 30- by 25- by 15-ft boiler room located beneath the restaurant.

The project was awarded to Empire State Fuel (Brooklyn, NY). Empire maintains and services Tavern on the Green's heating system and supplies it with heating oil. Four boiler mechanics from Empire completed the Tavern's installation in five days. For licensed contractor Ken Reed, installation manager and head of the team assigned to the Tavern project, the job was actually smaller than many of the installations he and Empire perform.

No Walk in the Park

"We do a lot of work in high-rise apartment buildings in the city," Reed commented. That doesn't mean the project was a "walk in the park." The difficult part of the project was dismantling and installing two boilers around a third boiler that was constantly firing. "It made the job really hot," adds Reed.

The installation of the new boilers was a complete success, according to the team at Empire. The restaurant never missed a beat. During heating season, Tavern's patrons will enjoy the warmth and comfort of three oil-fired, steam boilers firing away below the restaurant. And, the lobsters will never know what hit them. ES