D Magazine: Harwood’s Unique Approach to Opening








Kelsey Vanderschoot / 01.29.2021

While others in the industry scrambled to pivot toward takeout and delivery, the Harwood District, home to nine restaurants, has taken what has been nearly a year of closure to revamp and reevaluate its restaurant business models.

“Together, we initiated a powerful renaissance within Harwood Hospitality Group while our concepts were temporarily closed,” Harwood Hospitality Group vice president Michael Muskat said.

With no pressure from landlords—Harwood privately owns and operates all of its properties—the district has been able to implement a phased reopening process preceded by employee training, menu remakes, new culinary leadership, and interior remodels.

“We closely evaluated each concept’s unique business model, conducted various studies, improved our technology, revamped our menus, established new partnerships, and implemented innovative ways to take our unforgettable guest experiences to the next level,” Muskat said.

“In addition to implementing our Harwood Cares Programme, other key elements that we continue to elevate within each concept’s business model include the installation of advanced technologies as well as a deeper dive into each brand’s DNA and how we creatively express these elements in our style, culinary talents, and more.”

In May, Harwood reopened its coffee shop concept, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, and its French bistro concept, Mercat Bistro, followed by its bar concept, Happiest Hour, in October 2020. Happiest Hour, which is home to four bar spaces, debuted a rethought, food-forward menu under Harwood’s new hire, executive chef Molly Winkler. Winkler was previously a chef at Plano-based concept Sixty Vines.

“Our mantra is to go big or go home,” Winkler said.

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