NEW YORK - The operators of Tavern on the Green, the bankrupt storied restaurant in New York's Central Park, have sued the City of New York for more time to auction off the restaurant's assets.

Tavern on Green filed for bankruptcy protection in September, soon after losing a lease it had held since 1974 on the city property. The lease expires Dec. 31.

Tavern on the Green's operators, the Leroy family, said in documents filed on Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan that they need at least 90 days after the lease ends to conduct an auction of the restaurant's furniture, fine art and chandeliers and move the items out.

They also said they need to be able to assure the public the restaurant will continue to operate through the end of 2009 in order to be able to book holiday parties in November and December, the most profitable months.

A spokeswoman for the city said it was reviewing the lawsuit.

In August, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation awarded a 20-year lease to restaurateur Dean Poll, who has proposed a $25 million renovation to the restaurant and also runs the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park.

The Leroy family owns the Tavern on the Green name.

Tucked just inside the park off Central Park West, the restaurant is in a Victorian Gothic building, erected in 1870 to be a sheepfold. It once housed 200 Southdown sheep that grazed in Central Park's Sheep Meadow.

The restaurant also marks the finish line of the annual New York City marathon.

The restaurant's bankruptcy petition listed assets and debt in the range of $10 million to $50 million. The largest unsecured creditors include the New York Hotel Trades Council, with a claim of $1.78 million, and CCS Architecture Inc, with a claim of $235,000.

The cases are In re: Tavern On The Green Limited Partnership, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Nos. 09-1513 and 09-15450. (Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)