NEW YORK—When fans aren't watching Roger Federer and Serena Williams at the US Open, they're doing two very important things: eating and drinking. Luckily for everyone, Levy Restaurants has the second-most important part of the Grand Slam fully covered.
"I think this is a food event that happens to have tennis," Levy CEO Andy Lansing told Baseline. "We do all the food services from top to bottom. We’ll bring in partners to work with, but it's all us."
Lansing's company Levy Restaurants specializes in providing vending and food services to venues.
Lansing is three decades into his career at Levy, starting off as a company lawyer before making his way to CEO and expert food taster. He makes an effort to visit Levy's restaurant locations and eat his way through the menus.
"To me, you have to know the food and you have to taste it," Lansing said. "I always say if you’re going to work your tail off, as we all do, you may as well do it around sport sand food. It doesn’t get much better than that."
The US Open presents unique challenges for Levy's (which was started in Chicago in 1978 and is the hospitality partner at over 200 venues including Wrigley Field, Barclays Center, the Kentucky Derby and Indian Wells).
"There’s something about tennis and, in particular this event, because at most sporting events you come for a couple of hours—maybe you have one meal, maybe one snack," Lansing said. "Here it's breakfast, lunch and dinner."
"Cacio e pepe" spaghetti at Spiaggia.
During Week 1 at this year's US Open, Lansing made his way around the grounds with VIP treatment at every stop: plates of samples laid out waiting for him to dig into. At Spiaggia, there was a watermelon salad, a colorful burrata caprese, "cacio e pepe" spaghetti, penne pomodoro and a braised pork fusili.
The chef serving the spread at Spiaggia was none other than Top Chef finalist Joe Sasto.
"The little signature is the pink peppercorns on top, which gives it a really nice floral note," Sasto said about the spaghetti.
"The food here has to be as good as people can get outside," Lansing said. "It has to be as good, if not better. My favorite thing to do is to just go to tables and ask how do you like things, what would you like to see, what’s your favorites?"
Roasted turkey and avocado sandwiches from 'Wichcraft.
The next stop was the Food Village, which is a buzzing hub in the heart of the grounds. There, Lansing tasted tacos from Butterfly, dumplings from Dumpling Galaxy, a turkey and avocado sandwich from 'Wichcraft, a crispy chicken breast bowl from Fieldtrip, a Honey Deuce cocktail, and an ice cream sandwich from Melt Bakery.
Lamb dumplings from Dumpling Galaxy.
"The thing about this business is it's very subjective," Lansing said. "You could think these dumplings are worst thing in the world and I could think they’re the best. And unless they’re rancid, we’re both sort of right."
Ice cream sandwiches from 'Wichcraft.
Not full yet, Lansing headed to a final stop at Mojito Restaurant and Bar in Arthur Ashe Stadium for a toasted Cuban slider, a short rib and plantain entree, a goat cheese and spicy tomato appetizer, and a dulce de leche panna cotta for dessert. He sipped on a watermelon mojito, and enjoyed a bonus taste of a steak sandwich brought in from Pat LaFrieda.
A classic steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda.
The food and beverages don't end there. Visitors will find a lot more options to satisfy any kind of appetite including Vietnamese sandwiches, Korean bulgogi, hot dogs and burgers, sushi, pizzas, fried chicken, oysters and a lot, lot more.
"This is the highest degree of difficult out of anything we do as a company because there’s nothing here the rest of the year in general," Lansing said. "We have to set up a city for these couple of weeks. It’s like the circus coming to town."
A well-stocked circus with no one ever leaving the site hungry.