Amid the rush of Restaurant Week, Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant has stayed under the radar.
The restaurant, which opened Halloween night, is the newest venture of Vicente Siguenza and his family, who own three other restaurants in Connecticut, including a sister location of Harvest in Greenwich. Located at 1104 Chapel St., Harvest occupies a space that has sat empty for three years since Scoozzi Trattoria and Wine Bar Restaurant — a long-standing New Haven establishment open for over 20 years — closed abruptly in 2011, according to the New Haven Register. The space, which is a part of the Yale Center for British Art building, sits below street level.
Harvest operates based on a farm-to-table concept, sourcing locally produced food and promoting local companies, Siguenza said. He added that the restaurant sells wine-by-the-glass from “everywhere in the world.”
“Farms and very prestigious wineries — that’s what we’re trying to offer, day by day,” he said. “That’s about it.”
Executive Chef Gustave Christman said the menu is American contemporary, with Spanish, French and Italian twists. Currently, the menu is a simplified version of the one currently used by Harvest in Greenwich. This limited menu is in part due to the restaurant’s soft opening, Christman said.
Although Harvest has opened only for dinner since Oct. 31, it will begin serving lunch starting this Saturday. Its grand opening, organized in conjunction with University Properties, will take place on Nov. 25. That day, UP will celebrate the openings of Harvest, as well as several other new local businesses, according to bartender Amerra Ziyadeh.
However, Siguenza said Harvest is not actively working on publicity as of now. The original opening, he said, drew “very few people.”
“We’re trying to work the small details until people know about it,” Siguenza said. “We are getting responses already, so it’s picking up and performing better.”
Christman concurred, noting that the opening night had been unexpectedly slow but that the limited traffic allowed for troubleshooting.
Of 34 Yale students interviewed, 27 had never heard of Harvest, while two had walked past the location. Two other students had heard of the restaurant but were unaware of any further details.
The two students who had been to Harvest added that they heard about the restaurant through word-of-mouth — a tactic both Christman and Siguenza said is their preferred way of advertising.
UP reached out to Siguenza earlier this year, and Siguenza said that the University had actively wanted to bring Harvest to New Haven.
“It wasn’t in our head to do New Haven, although everyone’s always talking about how New Haven is coming to be this city of restaurants,” Siguenza said. “By being approached by Yale Properties, it worked out very well for us. It just came a little faster than we thought.”
Nine of the surrounding businesses interviewed acknowledged Harvest’s presence in spite of its low-key opening.
Nearby shop owners down the street expressed excitement at the restaurant and at the prospect of added foot traffic to the block.
“We’re really looking forward to it — the space has been empty for years,” said Gene Dostie, manager of Derek Simpson Jewelers.