Harvest Kitchen, a new restaurant that opened on South Enota Drive in Gainesville, is introducing people to the slow-paced nature of Spanish cuisine.
Instead of ordering one large entrée, co-owners Julia Still and Myles Willman invite customers to try multiple small dishes — also known as tapas — and hang out for a while.
“With most restaurants it’s how fast can you get people out,” Still said. “Here, we want people to stay for an hour or two and order food throughout the night. Our goal is to bring a piece of Spanish culture here.”
Still and Willman said they first met in Gainesville through Adventures in Missions, a local missionary program. The became closer friends while attending a discipleship school in southern Spain.
Still said she served as a missionary for three years, and Willman served for six.
Having spent months immersing themselves in the town of Mijas, the two said they developed a love for Spanish culture, especially the country's food. Their paths crossed again when they moved back to Gainesville. Still worked for Adventures in Mission, and Willman became a caterer with Midland Station Coffee Co., which closed in June 2019.
In Nov. 2018, Still said they tossed around the idea of opening a Spanish tapas catering company and restaurant together.
“We talked about how this makes so much sense,” Still said. “He just wants to cook, and I just want to engage with humans.”
After Midland Station shut down and Still left Adventures in Mission in the summer of 2019, the two decided it was time to give their dream a shot.
They ran the catering side of the business, Harvest Catering Co., while keeping an eye out for a brick-and-mortar restaurant location. When they found the empty business of an old Chinese buffet in November 2019, Still said they felt moved by God to sign the lease.
“This is our space,” Still said while admiring Harvest Kitchen. “We didn’t have investors. We’re doing it out of our own pockets and with the help of a couple friends and family members.”
Still said they had intended to open March 1, 2020, but the pandemic threw a wrench into their plans. However, the two agreed that they needed the extra time.
“This was a Chinese restaurant before,” still said. “This place took a lot of work to flip. We needed all of that time from November until last week. It's really cool now to see it come to fruition because it’s exactly what we envisioned.”
They officially opened Harvest Kitchen Friday, Aug. 14, in Sherwood Plaza near Locos Grill & Pub.
The menu offers classic Spanish tapas that Still and Willman said they enjoyed while living in southern Spain. The plates range from $5 to $14.
Willman said the kitchen is run by three chefs who have a combined 30 years of experience in the food industry.
Some of the co-owners' favorite creations include croquettes, a fried spherical food filled with either lobster and crab; mushrooms and vegan meat; or ham and cheddar.
They also serve up other Spanish classics like gambas pil pil, a dish with pan seared shrimp, shaved garlic and paprika, and patatas bravas, a plate of fried potatoes served with a special sauce and garlic aioli.
Willman said customers have also enjoyed the restaurant’s “table steak,” which is chargrilled, topped with flaky sea salt and served alongside sherry vinegar.
What: Spanish tapas restaurant that also offers catering
Where: 601 South Enota Drive NE, Gainesville
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; and 5-10 p.m. Saturday.
Contact/order food: harvestcateringco.com/restaurant or 470-892-6918
Despite preparing tapas, Still said many people have found the dishes larger than expected.
“Everyone that’s come in has commented on how surprised the portions are,” she said. “We want you to be full and happy, that’s the goal.”
The restaurant also offers a wide selection of Spanish wine like cava and tinto de verano, which is a combination of house red wine over ice and San Pellegrino Limonata, a sparkling lemon fruit beverage.
When people visit Harvest Kitchen, Still said she wants customers to experience a “sense of peace and belonging.” Whether someone comes in dressed in a suit for a date night, or visits dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, the co-owners said they want people to feel at ease.
“Our heart is that people who come here, they just experience something different,” she said. “We’ve intentionally hired staff who know the love of Jesus and are going to communicate that with the way they engage with our customers. “
The 600-square-foot dining space seats 25 people with tables spaced out at least 6 feet. Although masks are not required for customers, Still said all of Harvest Kitchen’s staff wear face coverings.
People can place an order for curbside pickup by visiting harvestcateringco.com/restaurant or calling 470-892-6918. The business offers catering through Harvest Catering Co., which can be contacted through the same number.
Harvest Kitchen’s hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; and 5-10 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is located at 601 South Enota Drive NE in Gainesville.