Usually when a restaurant announces that it’s “closed for renovations,” the phrase is code for “closed forever.” But sometimes it actually means that the 15-year grind of serving food to people seven days a week has taken a toll on a building that just needs a little TLC to function more smoothly.
Such is the case with Harry’s Restaurant & Cafe. Yes, it quietly closed on Monday, July 9, but the Midtown restaurant will only be gone for five weeks. When the restaurant reopens August 14, it will feature a new waiting area, upgraded restrooms, new floors, and other improvements to the building that owners Johnny and Patricia Platsas constructed in 2003. Other changes will happen once the restaurant reopens. All together, the renovation will be complete in October.
“In 2003, we rebuilt Harry’s. It used to be a little hole in the wall. Now it’s time to upgrade again,” daughter Zoi Platsas tells CultureMap. “There’s so many places going up, Whole Foods will be down the street. We need to keep up with the changes.”
To facilitate the improvements, the Platsas enlisted local designer Ferenc Dreef from Kollectiv and Construction Concepts, the local contractor that’s responsible for a wide variety of recently-opened Houston restaurants, including Doris Metropolitan and BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures. The changes aren’t designed to be too dramatic, but they will make the restaurant a more comfortable place to dine.
“I keep telling people we’re not going hipster. We’re making a more modern, clean look,” Zoi Platsas says. "I have customers that are judges, 60, 70 years old. I have the young crowd from Midtown . . . Our day to day service and function will remain the same.”
While the look may be changing, Zoi and her both John emphasize that the food will remain the same, and that’s a very good thing. Harry’s traces its roots back to 1948 and has been owned by the Platsas family since 1993. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, Houstonians of all demographics fill its dining room for both Southern staples and Greek dishes either from an extensive menu or a cafeteria line that offers daily specials.
One change diners will notice on the menu is that the restaurant is expanding its coffee offerings. Harry’s already serves locally-roasted Katz Coffee, but it will add espresso beverages like lattes and cappuccino when it reopens. Zoi also says the restaurants want to increase the amount of produce it buys from local farms, which will improve freshness and flavor.
All of those changes should help Harry’s stay relevant for another generation of Houston diners, but the family has even grander plans for the future. After 70 years in Midtown, Harry’s is looking for a second location in either the Energy Corridor or the Heights.
“We’re definitely going to open another one next year,” Zoi Platsas says. “We already have a person scouting areas. My dad has always had an eye for properties.”
“Once the opportunity arrives, we’ll act on it,” Zoi’s brother John Platsas quickly adds, “but first things first is to get this project out of the way.”
For diners who are temporarily deprived of their morning destination, getting the renovations complete can’t happen quickly enough.