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Pro Rugby Player Opening Australian-Style Coffee Shop on Upper East Side

By Carly Miller | September 29, 2017 2:29pm | Updated on October 2, 2017 8:57am
 Rugby player Alastair
Rugby player Alastair "Al" McFarland warming up the espresso machine at Hutch and Waldo Coffee, soon to open on East 81st Street.
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DNAinfo/Carly Miller

UPPER EAST SIDE — What does a pro rugby player do during the offseason?

For Alastair McFarland, who played for U.S. in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the answer was opening a coffee shop.

“It fits the New York need for speed," explained the Australian-born athlete, who currently lives on the Upper East Side.

His new spot, Hutch + Waldo is set to open as early as next week at 247 E. 81st St., serving up organic coffee alongside sandwiches and salads.

"We try to add the organic beauty of Australian food,” McFarland explained of his dishes, which include avocado toast and a Halloumi sandwich with arugula and tomato aioli.  

Hutch + Waldo will also serve sweets like giant cookies dripping with chocolate.

“You know the smell of freshly baked cookies? We want that to be wafting out of the door,” he said.

McFarland grew up playing rugby in Australia but moved to Manhattan six years ago. Although he often travels to the West Coast for tournaments, he’s continuously drawn back to the Upper East Side.

After working as “the man behind the coffee machine” at a vegan cafe in Chinatown, McFarland said he was ready to strike out on his own.

“We’re trying to give the community something to get excited about during the day,” he said, noting the traffic from cocktail bars and other nightspots on Second Avenue. 

McFarland, who also designed the shop's interior and its French bulldog logo, brought light into the former cavern-like storefront by installing a glass, roll up garage door to expose the cafe’s interior. 

On Thursday morning, with the garage door open and sunlight streaming in, McFarland welcomed curious passersby who stopped in to chat.

“People should feel part of the build-out, to feel more connected to it,” he said, praising the neighborhood for its sense of community. “You wouldn’t get that Downtown.”