By Randy Walker
After spending years and years documenting US Open history, I finally made a little tournament history of myself Tuesday evening.
This former US Open Record Book editor and USTA press officer walked over to catch a glimpse of the Olga Puchkova and Irina Falconi match on the fantastically intimate Court No. 17 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and stumbled on a new bar on site called “Bar 17.” It was not yet open for business when I first arrived, but bartender Jennifer Martinez told me it would be open for business for the first time within minutes. I decided to wait and get the honor of being the first person in US Open history to have a drink served at this new watering hole.
There has been a lot of talk this year at the US Open about bars on site, most notably the redesigned Heineken Red Star Café. When it was completed on Monday, the Red Star Cafe was met, frankly, with mixed reactions. Some people liked that it was now located on the second floor, with a great view of the South Plaza, with more table space and more seats. Others, however,
said they missed that you can’t be as social with passers-by and it is now harder to call people over for a cocktail who are walking by from the second floor. The new Red Star Café does not have the more intimate “pub-like” feel that the previous incarnation had – and the easiness to enter and exit. One can suspect, however, that it will undergo even more refurbishment for the 2013 US Open.
Having worked at the USTA with National Tennis Center facility director Danny Zausner and Tournament Director David Brewer, I was thinking of lobbing an email to them suggesting they try to recreate the feel of the old Red Star Café somewhere on site for the future. However, Bar 17 seems to have the friendliness, openness and some of the charm of the old Red Star Café. According to bar manager Kirby Santos, Bar 17 is a premium bar with a selection of beer, cocktails including champagne. It will eventually feature TVs and is located under the stands on the west side of Court 17. One could even sit at the bar and have a drink while waiting on line for a changeover to enter the court. The sunsets from that part of the grounds against the silhouette of Arthur Ashe Stadium are also a beautiful vista to behold.
Quipped Santos, “Bar 17 is where it is at.”
After about a 20-minute wait, Bar 17 was finally ready to be open for business. I ordered a Heineken to go down in US Open history as the first person to order a drink at the new Bar 17.
Randy Walker is the owner of TennisBloggers.com and is the author of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY available at www.TennisHistoryBook.com and where ever books are sold. Follow him on Twitter at @TennisPublisher