The Harmon Hub
203 Tacoma Ave S, Tacoma
Northwest outdoor, microbrews, and local: these are the three things owners Pat Nagle and Carol Holder want visitors to think when they walk into the Harmon Hub. Emphasis on local. When I sat down with them recently (over an amazing blue cheese salad) Pat described visits to Ireland, where every neighborhood has a “local” – a pub where the whole neighborhood goes for everyday food and socializing. He’d like the Hub to become that kind of neighborhood place, a gathering spot where patrons can bring their kids or enjoy a few pints with a big group of friends.
The Hub is a comfortable, welcoming space that is already well on its way to becoming the local gathering place Pat and Carol imagine.
The name “Hub” comes from the restaurant’s bicycle theme, a natural offshoot of the original outdoor-themed Harmon Brewery of the UWT area, and a reference to the Harmon’s bike club benefiting Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. The spacious interior is broken up into a large dining room, a few small nooks arranged around couches, and a bar. Mismatched chairs surround large wooden tables with plenty of room for large groups, as well as tables for two with a view of the waterway.
The Hub almost never happened. Nagle and Holder were about to undertake an extensive renovation of a portion of the nearby Mecca condominium project. They had
planned to turn it into the “Broadway Speakeasy,” a pub and small movie theatre. At the last minute, they learned that the St. Helens Café – the former occupant of the Hub’s space – would be closing. If they were ready to move on it right away they’d be able to take over the space. Within a matter of weeks they had completely changed gears, and found themselves re-imagining a cavernous, modern building. The space became available in January of 2008 and by March they were preparing to open their doors for St. Patrick’s Day.
Pat had already obtained a pizza oven, around which they built a Mediterranean-influenced menu of fresh Northwest ingredients to offset their collection of microbrews – some of which are brewed right downtown at the Hub’s other location near the University of Washington, Tacoma. Fresh cut sweet potato/russet fries and quality wood oven pizzas stand out amongst the selection of salads, burgers, pastas and appetizers.
Before sitting down with Pat and Carol, I had lunch at the Hub with a friend. She’s been a long-time fan of their fries, and between the two of us we managed to devour several baskets. Sweet potato fries are addictive, and I’ve never seen them made quite so thin and crispy. My blue cheese, mushroom and bacon
burger was done to perfection, and the bacon flavorful and crisp. My friend ordered a Caesar Salad to go with her fries, which arrived as a beautiful fan of romaine hearts studded with croutons and parmesan.
Originally a lunch and dinner place, the Hub began serving weekend breakfasts on August 2nd. In keeping with their reputation for fresh, chef-created food, the breakfast menu includes specialties like 12-grain pecan waffles, apple dumplings, organic eggs Benedict, and breakfast pizza. We’ll have to stop in
soon and give it a try.