A new Lancaster County farm-to-table restaurant’s proximity to product will put it a step ahead of its competition, its CEO said.
The Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar, opening its ninth location on Nov. 5, chose the Shoppes at Belmont in Manheim Township for its newest iteration to bring Lancaster County produce to its customers just hours after it was harvested.
According to Dave Magrogan, CEO and founder, the farm fresh concept is still one that is best done through close partnerships with local farmers.
“I think in limited areas this has caught on,” Magrogan said. “There have been a lot of smaller farm-to-table restaurants but I don’t think you’re seeing true farm-to-table work its way into the massive restaurant chains.”
The company has had close ties with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op for over six years and the new location, situated just miles from the co-op’s warehouse, makes it easier for Magrogan and his staff to have relationships with the local farmers contributing to the business.
While preparing the new location for opening, Magrogan has visited a number of local farms in the co-op to structure the restaurant’s menu and decide what they may need in the future. Visiting the farms also gives the restaurant the opportunity to give feedback to their suppliers. Magrogan used the example that he and his staff could ask a local farmer to plant more rows of product.
Compared to past years, Magrogan said that finding and sourcing product and transporting it from local farms has never been easier.
“Compared to a decade ago the logistics really improved dramatically,” He said. “To watch an organization like Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op and seeing how much product is coming in and out, it’s much easier for restaurateurs to work in that system.”
The Shoppes at Belmont also features a Whole Foods, which Magrogan says was a positive when looking at building the new Harvest at that location, due to an overlap in customer interest.
“What we’ve definitely seen is that the consumer who shops at whole foods is interested in free range and organic products they will be interested in what harvest has to offer,” he said.