Sports fans at the 2010 U.S. Open in New York City will be able to dine on the normal sports venue fare, from hot dogs to burgers, pizza and ice cream.

But they’ll also be able to partake in healthy parfaits, flatbread sandwiches, cold soups and salads from Maine’s own Stonyfield Cafe.

“It’s extraordinarily exciting,” said Mac McCabe, CEO and co-founder of the Falmouth eatery. “It’s the most complicated thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

The two-week tennis tournament starts Aug. 30 and is the highest-attended annual sporting event – a record 721,059 people went last year – according to the U.S. Tennis Association.

McCabe expects that in those two weeks in NYC, the Stonyfield Cafe will sell roughly the equivalent of 25 percent of its annual sales.

And the exposure will be invaluable, said McCabe.

“This is our chance to take it to the country, this is our chance to say, ‘This is who we are,’” McCabe said. “It’s our chance to go on a very big stage, with hundreds of thousands of people.”

The Stonyfield Cafe was formerly known as O’Naturals. It was rebranded earlier this year. New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farms, a leader in organic foods – most notably yogurts – and O’Naturals were both founded by Gary Hirshberg.

While French company Group Danone owns 85 percent of Stonyfield Farms, Hirshberg still runs the company, and also is chairman of Stonyfield Cafe. Hirshberg and McCabe decided to rebrand O’Naturals earlier this year to capitalize on the name recognition.

Stonyfield Farms is one of 26 sponsors of the U.S. Open, and was a sponsor last year, as well. In negotiations for this year’s sponsorship, Stonyfield Farms wanted a food-selling presence, McCabe said.

That was important because the company wanted to promote healthy foods at the premiere sporting event, said Stonyfield Farms spokeswoman Sarah Badger.

The exact arrangement is complicated. There is one food vendor for the Open, Levy Restaurants. Stonyfield Cafe has a grab-and-go setup at the Open that is similar to a food court. It will have Stonyfield Cafe signs and menus, and will be staffed by Levy employees wearing T-shirts and visors from the Maine restaurant.

There’s no on-site space for food preparation. Stonyfield Cafe has an arrangement with a New York restaurant for space, and key staff from Maine will be working there to make signature foods for the Open, such as the flatbread used in the sandwiches. Twice a day, orders of sandwiches, parfaits (made with granola from Maine’s own GrandyOats), cold soups and salads will be trucked to the stadium.

McCabe said he’s heading to New York this morning to stay in an extended-stay hotel in Queens for the next several weeks to prepare for the event and oversee operations.

McCabe said this is a good chance to show the world that healthy food can be viable in a quick-service format. While the Portland O’Naturals closed in the down economy, the Falmouth store survived and is profitable, McCabe said.

“We’re back to OK,” McCabe said.

Last year’s initial Open sponsorship came about because Hirshberg is an avid tennis player who coaches his daughter’s team, Badger said. McCabe said he’s a big fan of the sport and plays doubles in Falmouth and Portland.

“I don’t know how many balls I’m going to see hit, but it’s going to be fun to be there,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: [email protected]