New Yorkers will once again be able to dine al fresco in the Union Square pavilion.
The Parks Department confirmed today that it approved Chef Driven Market LLC to host a cafe at the Union Square restaurant space that has been empty since 2007.
"This seasonal café will bring food service back to Union Square Park," Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.
The Luna Café was in the park from 1994 to 2007, according to the Parks Department, serving New Yorkers dining outside on warm summer nights.
But after it closed, community activists pushed back against city plans, saying the space would be better used for playgrounds the community desperately needed.
"They're taking a thousand square feet from potential play space from children in a community that has the least amount of playground space," said Geoffrey Croft, of NYC Park Advocates, a watchdog group.
Critics also noted that the space is popular for public rallies, including an Occupy Wall Street protest in the fall against the education system.
Croft said the Union Square Community Coalition, where he is a board member, plans to sue and hopes to stop the new restaurant. The group has sued before in an attempt to block Union Square plans. The lawsuit was dismissed.
The restaurant, scheduled to open in spring 2013, will feature locally grown and produced fresh food sold at the Greenmarket. It will also host a community scheduled and non-profit workshops, according to the Parks Department.