A stroll through the U.S. Open Food Village in 2023 brings some familiarity from previous years, but also a slew of new tastes. And even a Michelin star.
“I think it is a different diversity,” chef Ron Krivosik, Levy culinary senior vice president, tells me about the fresh mix. “The quality is what we are looking for.”
From James Kent and his Michelin-starred Crown Shy dropping into the Food Village concession lineup to popular Harlem comfort food restaurant Melba’s—not counting The Migrant Kitchen, King Souvlaki or Side Piece Chicken, also all new in 2023—the renewed take on food for the three-week event provides a continued snapshot of New York dining.
“We want to give them the local flavor,” Krivosik says. “This is how New York eats.”
The mix of diversity of the food operated by Levy on the U.S. Open grounds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center runs form admired local eateries to celebrity chefs. Sometimes both.
The addition of James Kent in the concession area offers an original take on both fried chicken and beef chopped cheese sandwiches (not to mention a killer sticky toffee pudding dessert).
When Kent first approached Levy about joining the U.S. Open, Paul Schwartz, Levy vice president of hospitality, tells me he thought Kent was talking about the fine-dining and premium spaces. “To take that quality into concessions is really cool,” Schwartz says. “They are hitting on New York trends and making approachable items with a Michelin-starred chef.”
From the 1970s King Souvlaki has served up gyros across New York. They bring that flavor to the Open for the first time. “That’s what people want to eat,” Krivosik says about inviting local mainstay restaurants.
Melba Wilson’s Melba’s is a stalwart in Harlem. Now the mix of comfort food—we’re talking mac and cheese to a twist on spring rolls and chicken and waffles to sweet potato fries with maple syrup and even fresh catfish—sits alongside other popular locations in the U.S. Open Food Village, such as The Migrant Kitchen with its combination of Middle Eastern and Latino flavors.
Krivosik says the foodie world knows the names of Michelin-starred and James Beard-winning chefs and when they see those chefs serving at the Open, that’s where they’re drawn. For the more casual food fan, the popular chefs simply up the quality.
Putting a U.S. Open exclusive spin on dining offers a special treat, especially when that treat comes in the form of ice cream. Van Leeuwen created an exclusive flavor for the tournament, with the honeycomb fudge slam served only on site. “They are so creative,” Krivosik says about the ice cream maker. “This is something people can’t find in the city.”
The celebrity angle isn’t lost either, with Alex Guarnaschelli making her third run at the Open and ACES now offering up dishes from one of New York’s hottest chefs, Kwame Onwuachi of Tatiana, along with Michelin-starred Ed Brown and Masaharu Morimoto.
Benjamin Steakhouse makes a repeat appearance at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Additional celebrity chefs returning include David Burke with Mojito and Josh Capon with Fly Fish.
“Celebrity chef partnerships are always popular,” Danny Zausner, USTA National Tennis Center chief operating officer, tells me, “and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them and Levy to deliver an unparalleled food program at a major sports and entertainment event.”
When the fans line up for food (the 2023 fan week attendance set a record at nearly 158,000 fans before the main draw even started), arguably the hottest attraction on the grounds is one of three Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors sites. The LaFrieda butcher shop remains open 24 hours a day and services meat for the entire grounds. Not only does the stand’s Black Angus Steak Sandwich offer meat cut fresh overnight and bread baked fresh daily by 4 a.m. from a local baker, but they’ve also upped the ante this year. Unique items fill the three different stands, including a new classic Cubano sandwich that has LaFrieda roasting its own pork butt and slicing its own ham, making the aioli and slicing the pickles on site.
Additional mainstays returning to the Open include pizza from San Matteo NYC, Hill Country BBQ, Korilla BBQ, Fuku, Taqueria Nixtamal, Eataly, Poke Yachty and Crabby Shack.
“Our approach is always to ensure we have offerings for every palette,” Zausner says. “After seeing attendance surpass previous years and predicted to remain strong, we have worked with our partners at Levy to ensure throughout remains high. Our offerings are more robust but more importantly the quality is there.”
And so is the diversity. That’s the entire point of giving hundreds of thousands of fans from around the globe a true taste of New York.