On Aug. 25, 2014 the US Open kicked off with a bang at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens and Examiner.com was on the scene for this special evening as a guest of lead sponsor Heineken. The weather couldn't be more perfect and the energy was amazing at the park. Before the opening ceremonies, we headed to the Heineken House. The space is a little oasis overlooking the stadium. It has a really relaxing vibe. All of the tennis matches were live streaming on screens throughout the house. In our private cabana, we were served ice cold Heinekens and delicious sandwiches by Parm Restaurant.
When you first enter the Heineken House to your left, there is a booth that dispenses Heineken from the "Brew Lock System." As soon as the beer is created in Amsterdam it goes straight into a special capsule and it never touches oxygen or carbon dioxide, so when people drink it after it is transported all over the world it tastes super fresh - as if it was just created. The Heineken House also features a gift shop with t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and other cool memorabilia. There was also a fun photo booth, where guests could pose with a giant racket or tennis ball. Guests were given a color print out and had the option to email the photo to themselves. In the back left of the Heineken House, guests can also buy Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider.
Each day, visitors to the house will be given the opportunity participate in fun, tennis-related tasks, such as tallest tower of tennis balls stacked in 30 seconds and winners holding the highest record in each competition held onsite each day will have a chance to win tickets to the championship matches at the 2014 Open. Kids can play Tailgate in the space. There is a mini court for this game. Heineken partnered with Jeff Zalaznick and chef Mario Carbone of Parm to create custom-made sandwiches just for the 2014 US Open. They designed two sandwiches, which are exclusively at the Heineken House during the course of the tournament. I sampled "The Godfather," which is a sandwich made with pressed garlic bread, mozzarella and tomato. It was delicious. Guests also enjoyed the "Zesty Italian Combo," which consists of pepperoni, sopressata, Genoa salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, sweet peppers, tomato, lettuce and zesty dressing.
We had the opportunity to chat with Jeff Zalaznick and chef Mario Carbone of Parm exclusively. Read what they had to say below:
Q: Tell me what it is like collaborating with Heineken on this venture.
It’s been awesome. Heineken and the US Open - talking about amazing giant brands - we’re just happy and humble quite honestly, for our little restaurant to be a part of it and have a couple of sandwiches at an iconic New York event with one of the great brands. That’s as good as it gets for us.
Q: How did you choose which sandwiches you wanted to bring?
We did one from the restaurant and we wanted to do one special, off the restaurant menu, so we took a classic from the restaurant and that would go well with the beer, which is the Italian combo, and then we wanted to do one that you couldn’t get in the restaurant, which we only do once a year for our street fair which is the Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Godfather.
Q: Your restaurant has been getting so much buzz, can you speak about the success of it?
It’s been a great experience. We created a restaurant that was truly our dream restaurant. Both to create and just overall and we’re so happy that it worked out as well as it did.
Where did your passion for Italian cuisine come from?
I grew up Italian, he grew up Jewish so he might as well have been and we both grew up in New York, so this is what you grow up eating. For us, it was more function of, ‘how do we create this best version of us?’ ... regardless of our background.
Soon it was time to head to the stadium for the opening night festivities, which were full of flashing lights, fireworks and celebrities. We spotted Anna Wintour, Karli Kloss, Rosie Perez, Josh Lucas, Boris Becker, Donald Trump, Kelly Bensimon, Gayle King, Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria in the crowd. Mayor De Blasio and former Mayor Dinkins participated in the festivities. An estimated 700,000 attendees are expected at the US Open. Fitz and The Tantrums served as the evening's musical act. They performed their hit "The Walker," and "Out Of My League." The legendary Winans Brothers performed the national anthem. Finally, it was time for the tennis. We had amazing seats in the Heineken suite. Maria Sharapova played Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova easily won. Next up, the number one player in the world Novak Djokovic played Argentinian Diego Schwartzman. Novak also easily won. It was exciting to see two of the greatest players in the world kick off the US Open. Stay tuned for more of our adventures.