COLLEGEVILLE — Farm-to-table has come to Collegeville with the opening of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar.
“Collegeville’s been great. It’s been firing on all cylinders,” said CEO and founder Dave Magrogan of the latest franchise that opened last month in the Providence Town Center.
Occupying the space of the former Champps chain restaurant, 51 Town Center Drive, the 8,000-square-foot eatery can accommodate up to 250 people in the dining and bar service spaces.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar Founder and CEO Dave Magrogan, right, and Collegeville Managing Partner Lauren Mendicino at the new restaurant. (Photo courtesy Dave Magrogan)
As a former chiropractor, Magrogan merged his medical knowledge with passion for healthy cuisine to create his vision for Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar.
“You can help people who are dealing with high blood pressure, diabetes or other issues by modifying the way the dishes are created,” he said.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar opened its premier spot in Glen Mills back in 2010. Over 12 years, the company opened eight other locations. In Pennsylvania, Harvest locations are found in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Newtown, Moosic, and North Wales. Additional locations can also be found in Moorestown, N.J., and Delray Beach, Fla.
The interior of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar’s Collegeville location offers seating accommodations for up to 250 people in the dining and bar service areas. (Photo courtesy Dave Magrogan)
Offering meat, seafood, vegan, and vegetarian options, food prices typically range from $10 to $40.
Magrogan had initially been surveying the Collegeville-based shopping center for his next location back in 2019. He had expressed interest in a retail space. But things changed when Champps closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. When revamping the space, Magrogan stressed the need to implement COVID-19 health, safety and mitigation measures.
“We wanted to have all the windows on the property open so that if there was a COVID outbreak again or something like that we could get fresh air into the restaurant,” he said. “So that was a significant expense to take a traditional storefront and convert it to opening window walls.”
It took about three years and more than $4 million to bring about this latest Harvest Grill & Wine Bar, Magrogan said, which opened on Nov. 8. The project came in roughly 30% over budget, Magrogan said, citing price increases, delays and supply chain issues. The Collegeville location employs 50 people.
Magrogan said he’s heard positive feedback from patrons who have returned to in-person dining activities.
“The consumers’ needs really fit … and it’s been phenomenally busy. It’s been a great location,” he said.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar offers a variety of meat, seafood, vegan, and vegetarian options at its new Collegeville location. (Photo courtesy Dan Michael Photography).
Collegeville’s produce comes from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op, which works with more than 100 area farmers. Magrogan stressed how fresh produce is crucial to Harvest’s mission.
“The tomatoes you eat at Harvest will come out of the ground that day, will come off the plant that day and be at Harvest that night or the next day,” he said.
Magrogan prides his restaurants on the creativity that comes from a menu that changes seasonally with specialties like watermelon salad in the summer and butternut squash soup in the fall and winter.
“We get to work with a lot of local farms and we get to use products that they’re good at growing, and we get to build menu dishes around that as well,” he said.
Executive Chef Josh Short presides over the Collegeville kitchen, which produces a variety of healthy American fare inspired by locally sourced ingredients.
Some popular dishes include the braised short rib and mushroom flatbread, butternut squash soup, cedar roasted half-chicken, pan-seared Black Sea bass, and winter squash rigatoni.
The restaurant is expected to unveil its winter menu in January. While the new menu has not yet been publicized, Magrogan said that salads, as well as dishes featuring meat root vegetables will take center stage. The butternut squash soup will also remain on the menu.
“We always make sure that the menu allows everybody to come into Harvest and enjoy it,” he said. “So the steak and meat eater, he could get our filet with mashed potatoes, and order a side of mac and cheese if he wants … while his daughter might be sitting across the table having a vegan organic rigatoni dish.”
Still, like many other restaurateurs, Magrogan has experienced financial constraints that have brought about supply chain issues and rising costs brought about by inflation. Additionally, the restaurant is “dealing with (a) labor shortage” that requires the hiring of another 20 employees, mostly servers.
“It’s pretty much a perfect storm for restaurants because we’re having expenses in four different areas,” he said. “So it’s not only did the cost of labor go up, but so did the cost of electricity, the cost of natural gas, and then your vendors are dealing with the same issues.”
“It costs more now for farmers to employ people on their farms,” he continued. “It costs more for them to ship things from their farms. So everything costs more at all levels.”
Despite challenges, Magrogan looks toward the future with his latest venture and expressed confidence in his business model that focuses on locally sourced ingredients, ever-changing menus and healthy options.
“Harvest gives me a lot of joy because I know that we’re putting out healthier product, good product, and we’re helping local vendors and local farms, while were also helping our consumer,” he said.