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November 27, 2018

On The Menu — Foods To Match All Diets

With a new Halal option in its suites, Madison Square Garden adds to its rich offering of specialty cuisines.

Ammad Sheikh, with his boys, Yaseen and Rahim, and his wife, Nahid. "Sports and food can break down barriers," he says. (Photo: Zack Lane/MSG Photos)

Ammad Sheikh, founder of the South Asian Sports Network and a Knicks fan to the core, has established a ritual, spearheading outings to Madison Square Garden that have attracted hundreds in the Muslim community to see the Knicks play. His community outreach organization is propelled by the notion that sports have a unique power to cross cultural divides and bring people together.

On a recent evening, the tradition continued when Sheikh brought 50 fans — some diehards like himself, others newly impassioned — to Lounge 301 for a panoramic view of the action. It was nothing short of a party that came with a new twist of specially prepared halal food.

Now, The Garden, expanding on its of offering of specialty foods that meet a range of dietary needs, has added halal food as a choice in the arena’s suites. This is part of a larger effort to embrace and cater to fans who are as diverse as New York itself and who represent all corners of the map.

With that in mind, The Garden offers vegetarian, vegan, organic and gluten-free options at the Hain Celestial stand, as well as kosher food at Abigael’s, both on the Madison Concourse on Level 6 — all this is in addition to an array of gourmet cuisines. 

 

A Diverse Organization

Born in Queens and raised in Hicksville, L.I., Sheikh adopted the Knicks during the Patrick Ewing, John Starks years. “When I played, I thought I was Starks,” he says.

His organization is roughly 1,000-strong, with more than 100 teams of kids and adults playing everything from basketball to Ultimate frisbee, and welcoming immigrants from everywhere. The group runs camps, provides scholarships and supports charities, including relief for Hurricane Harvey last year.

Before this season began, the Knicks’ Enes Kanter, who is Muslim, led a special basketball clinic for the entire South Asian Sports Network.

The other night, Sheikh, his wife, Nahid, and their two sons, Rahim, 11, and Yaseen, 9, and the rest of their contingent enjoyed a rousing night at The Garden, punctuated by a group photo at center court.

“No matter where we come from, two things bring us together,” he said, wisely. “Sports. And of course, food.”

 

The whole group takes center court after a recent Knicks game. Almost as soon as Ammad Sheikh sends out word of an outing to see the Knicks, “everyone wants to join,” he says. (Photo: MSG Photo Services)


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The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL) and the New York Liberty (WNBA); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com