It’s an annual rite in New York City. Every year from the end of August through the beginning of September the US OpenTournament descends on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York. Along with the forehands, the backhands and the aces, the tournament’s attendees are also treated to some interesting prices in the Center’s Food Village and restaurants. Hot dogs are $4.75 US Dollars, the regular seasoned fries are $4.50 and a bottle of soda is $4.75. The Cold Maine Lobster Roll goes for $17.50.
Tennis fans don’t have to dig into their wallets just to eat, however. They only have to leave the Center itself and walk a few feet to Helen Wong’s New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Hot Dog Stand. Conveniently situated in the park at the end of the subway ramp near the Tennis Center’s East Gate, the stand is right next to a Mercedes-Benz display featuring a huge picture of tennis greatfalling to his knees at the moment he won the 2006 US Open.
The stand will be open every day of the tennis tournament. Its menu items include ice cream, $2.00 hot dogs, chips for fifty cents, and bottles of soda for $2.00.
According to Helen, a native of Hong Kong who now lives on Long Island, the two most requested items during the Open are her hot dogs and Gatorade. She may also add sandwiches this year as well.
“If people can’t afford to buy their food at the US Open and they are forced to come here,” she says, “they can’t eat hot dogs every day. It would be nice to have some sandwiches for them.” The most requested ice cream she says is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich.
The stand is even more economical for families. Steven Dickerson, who lives in New Jersey, was attending the free qualifying rounds and player practice sessions with his sons Connor and Ryan, and their friend Vishnu Jofhi.
“The prices are so much cheaper than inside,” Dickerson says. “It’s quick and easy then you can go back and watch the matches.”
Chris Widmaier, Managing Director, Communications for the United States Tennis Association, notes that the Tennis Center’s Food Village prices are on a par with other local arenas.
“Food pricing at the US Open is comparable to prices at other sports venues in the New York area,” he says. “You can get a hot dog and a beer cheaper at the US Open than at more than half of the other New York stadiums.”
The nature of the Open’s facility also allows them flexibility in terms of food service. “We are able to provide the highest quality of food over a variety of price points,” he adds.
A steady stream of customers is stopping by the hot dog stand as the afternoon wears on. Included are some US Open personnel wearing official credentials. There are also several kids who were playing soccer in the park itself.
Helen has also had some famous visitors as well. Richard Williams, father of Venus and“comes here every year for a hot beef sausage.” Frank and Kathy Lee Gifford dropped by a few years ago, and ’s grandparents have come as well.
“Every year I see the same people coming to the stand,” says Helen, who admits that she loves interacting with her customers. “It’s like coming home.”
For full information about Flushing Meadows Corona Park including maps, log onto http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park