Passion, pride, people and place in a little patch of foodie heaven
Creating a place that makes customers feel as good as the food tastes has been the driving force behind Harvest, the Newrybar deli/bakery/restaurant three friends bought and transformed into a destination dining experience.
What inspired 20-something hospitality workers to turn a country café into a fine dining destination for foodies (and food reviewers) from around the country? It was the four Ps – passion, pride, a sense of place and a love for people – that inspired the trio to make Harvest a special space that keeps locals and tourists coming back for seconds, Tristan Grier says.
Tristan Grier, along with long-time friend Brooke Hudson, and his wife Kass have been the co-owners of Harvest, a wood-fired bakery, deli, private dining room and restaurant in the Byron Bay hinterland, since 2007.
Located in a rustic weatherboard cottage in Newrybar, an easy 20-minute drive south-west of the bay, Harvest dishes up a delectable array of modern Australian and fusion fare and what Northern Rivers residents say is the best sourdough this side of Sydney.
Fresh produce is sourced from local growers and the venue’s own organic gardens.
Harvest’s sister venture, hole-in-the-wall coffee joint Sparrow, has four outlets, in Bangalow, Byron Bay, Port Douglas and Brisbane city.
Following their hearts
Owning their own establishment wasn’t in the grand plan back in 2007. The Griers had been working at Harvest when they proposed they take over the venue’s day-to-day management.
“It was always going to be a massive challenge and we were prepared for the fact we might have to fight tooth and nail to get every single customer through the door, but we could also see the Byron region was going through a really great change,” Tristan says.
“Hobby farmers and tree changers from Sydney and Melbourne were moving in. We thought, ‘is there a market here for what we’d love to achieve?’. We wanted to create a truly outstanding venue for the local community to come together, a space we could be proud of which served clean, organic, locally sourced produce.
“Our instinct was ‘yes’, there was that market. We talked to Brooke and together we decided we could scrape up enough money to do this, in what was then the middle of nowhere – to build and build and build and achieve that dream.”
Expanding the dream
Harvest has been a NAB client for seven years – since the day the trio needed to secure a loan to build an al fresco dining deck.
“It was the first time we’d looked to borrow money.” Tristan says.
“We were a bunch of young kids who didn’t just need funding, we needed support and guidance – someone to come into our corner. We walked across the road and spoke to NAB and not only did we get everything sorted, we got a partner.”
Funding from NAB has since helped restore a historic bakery, build an on-site deli, restore Harvest’s signature restaurant and create four hole-in-the-wall Sparrow cafes.
“The relationship has given us strength and the ability to move forward,” Tristan says.
“NAB bought into our future and, from the day they did, we haven’t looked back.”
Staying true to self
Eleven years in and Harvest is a bustling, thriving reality that employs a team of 70 locals and whose stellar reputation keeps foodie fans from near and far coming back for more.
Despite the commercial success of the operation, the trio’s raison d’être is the same as it ever was.
“For us, being in business will always be about pride, passion, people and place,” Tristan says.
“If all those elements are present, profit will happen too, but it should never be what a business is centred around.
“We see Harvest as a living, breathing organism that’s fed by all those things – it’s bigger than us and that’s always been the point.”
To anyone who meets the trio you can see why the business is so successful – they have held onto their raison d’être.