Changes at Harold's
Heights restaurant taps into breakfast service with coffee cocktails and dog-friendly patio
The wave of new bars and restaurants that has crashed into The Heights over the past couple of years — recent arrivals include Field & Tides, Better Luck Tomorrow, and Helen in the Heights — has meant numerous new options for area residents and visitors, but the increased competition has also meant more restaurants close, too.
In the last couple of weeks, two restaurants, Glass Wall and Shade, shuttered to reconcept after being open for more than 10 years each. Two more restaurants, Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s, flamed out after a year-and-a-half due to their parent company’s well-publicized financial difficulties.
The whole situation has Jonathan McElvy, editor/published of Heights-oriented newspaper The Leader, so befuddled that last week he penned an editorial in which he seemed to prefer North Shepherd's return to the days of run-down used car lots than have to deal with the rate at which some restaurants open and close. Perhaps some Montrose residents can teach him how to adjust to life in a big city.
While some restaurants shutter, others continue to tinker with their concepts to maximize their appeal and capitalize on new opportunities. Such is the case with Harold’s in the Heights. Originally opened in 2013 as The Heights General Store, the two-story restaurant on 19th Street has stayed true to its original vision of serving high-quality Southern-inspired fare made with local ingredients, but owner Alli Jarrett and executive chef Antoine Ware have never been shy about making changes that make the restaurant more appealing to its customers.
Last year, those changes included transforming its downstairs space into a bar and lounge called Harold’s Tap Room, which has given the area a casual hangout spot that offers a solid selection of craft beer, wine, cocktails, and food (a mix of snacks, sandwiches, pizzas and more). Beginning June 8, the Tap Room will transform again by adding coffee and breakfast.
Every morning starting at 9 am, diners will be able to come to the Tap Room for options that are designed to be a little more hearty than a traditional coffee shop (not to be confused with places like Morningstar and Cafeza that serve full menus). The choices include locally made pastries from Cake & Bacon, as well as breakfast pizzas and dishes like quiche and biscuit sandwiches with cheese and housemade ham.
Ware also expresses enthusiasm about working with Cake & Bacon, the local wholesaler that's been making a splash since it launched in March. His relationship with co-owner Jeff Weinstock goes back to Catalan, when Ware met Weinstock during an internship. “There’s true craftsmanship. Look at the muffin. It’s not a normal muffin,” Ware says. “It was a no-brainer for us.”
Just as the food options are a little more varied than a traditional coffee shop, the Tap Room will also set itself apart with its beverage options. In addition to coffee and espresso drinks that utilize beans from local roaster Geva Premium Coffee, Jarrett and bar manager Julia Tillman have developed a menu of coffee-based cocktails that are available from opening time, including a walnut espresso mochatini and the Eye Opener that’s based around coffee-infused Jack Daniels single barrel rye.
Of course, as at any coffee shop, free Wifi and electrical outlets allows patrons to get a little work done while they eat and drink. The patio that faces 19th Street is even dog friendly.
All told, the changes are part of Harold’s continuing quest to serve its neighborhood as well as it possibly can. Ware expresses sympathy for the businesses that haven’t made it, but he’s still focused on doing the best work he can.
“I think we’re still in a good spot,” Ware says. “Step one is to stay open. The other step is to keep putting out great food. Not every day is going to be perfect, but we try to get better and better.”