MANHATTAN — Falafel balls and Belgian fries by way of Amsterdam have arrived in Central Park’s Harlem Meer.
The Dutch chain Maoz Vegetarian opened in a kiosk a few weeks ago at East 106th Street and Fifth Avenue, marking the company’s seventh New York City location.
The Parks Department, which has been diversifying Central Park’s food options beyond hot dogs and pretzels toward healthier, and often, more gourmet, offerings, officially welcomed Maoz on Wednesday to its new spot near such cultural institutions as El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York.
“The addition of Maoz Vegetarian to the menu of options offered to visitors of Central Park continues to provide those of all tastes a choice meal when experiencing the park,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.
“Moving beyond classic New York City cart foods, visitors of different tastes can now extend their time at Central Park with a vegetarian choice with some of Maoz Vegetarian’s delicious options such as the falafel sandwich.”
Also on the menu will be Maoz’s popular pita with salad, sweet potato fries, muffins, fresh squeezed juice and mint lemonade.
Maoz signed an 8-year contract for the space, according to the Parks Department, which said the establishment will be open at least through mid-November every year. It will operate seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (subject to seasonal changes and weather related circumstances).
"The public wants a greater variety of food other than hot dogs,” Glenn Kaalund, a project manager in the Parks Department's Revenue Division, told the Upper East Side’s Community Board 8 at a meeting last year, explaining the agency’s efforts to cater to different palates.
Park-goers can now find anything from Sigmund's artisanal hand-rolled pretzels in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the upscale Rouge Tomate's grass fed bison burger or Morroccan chicken sandwich at East 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.
“Tourists love hot dogs," Kaalund said. "But those of us that are local — not many of us make a stop at a hot dog stand."