Always in Season
At Dave Magrogan’s family of Harvest restaurants, patrons enjoy the best seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine the Northeast has to offer
by Leigh Stuart

One of the beauties of living in the Northeast comes with the change of the seasons. The crisp air of fall, newly fallen snow in winter, the joy of flowers in spring and the warmth of summer all combine to make the Greater Philadelphia Area one of the most diverse and interesting places in the country to live. Each season also comes with its own unique share of culinary joys; pumpkins and apples in the fall, for example, and tomatoes and berries in the summer.

One local restaurateur, former chiropractor Dave Magrogan, celebrates all this and more with his Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar locations, including its newest, at 555 E. Lancaster Avenue in Radnor. At these restaurants, the menu changes with the seasons to ensure guests are getting the freshest locally sourced products possible, with most menu items measuring 500 calories or less.

“At a lot of restaurants, food is a commodity,” Magrogan says. “That is, ‘How much profit can be made?’ Our concern is, ‘How healthy is the chicken? How high quality is the meat? Is it certified raised humanely?’ It is interesting for me because Harvest is consistent with my overall health ideals and overall lifestyle. I think it’s consistent with a lot of people’s general goals for lifestyle.”

Magrogan, who “grew up” in the restaurant business, has a culinary empire that also includes Red Star Craft House in Exton; Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House locations in Dover, Del., and Sea Isle City, N.J.; Doc Magrogan’s Fish Market in Moosic; and Kildare’s in Scranton. At all his establishments—the Harvest restaurants are no exception—Magrogan strives to bring the most vibrant ingredients to his patrons.

“In particular with Harvest, I enjoy that we are sourcing great products and responsibly sourcing those great products,” Magrogran says. “We strive to provide organic, non-GMO products. I feel really good about what we’re serving, because it’s good for the environment, and for the health of our guests.”

Josh Short, corporate executive chef, adds that this health-first philosophy extends to proteins as well; Harvest strives to serve only proteins free of antibiotics and growth hormones. That having been noted, the Harvest restaurants are also striving to popularize “Meatless Monday” meals. Chefs at each Harvest location are encouraged to stretch their creativity to devise unique seasonally appropriate meatless dishes.

“Clean food is the best way to describe it,” Short says. “That’s really what we’re striving for. We want to be able to offer the very best to our guests. That means not only providing an amazing experience, with taste and presentation, but also we want everyone to leave the experience on a healthy note.”

Of note, the calorie-conscious diner with a sweet tooth isn’t left out at Harvest. The restaurants’ house-made mini-desserts are all, almost unbelievably, under 300 calories. This is because the days of heavy, overly sweet, baby-sized slices of cakes and pie are no longer in fashion.

“The desserts provide a nice end to the meal—a little sweetness,” Short notes. Options, two of which are always gluten-free, for the autumn season include miniature versions of pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate salted caramel, and pecan pie.

“Our guests love that our menu changes seasonally, but it also bums them out,” Magrogan says with a laugh. “For example, we do a Caprese flatbread in the summer; but then that comes off [the menu] and a pear and bleu cheese comes on. Fish tacos, in the summer, are a tremendous seller; then in the fall, the pumpkin ravioli is a huge seller. It’s sort of like we’re trying to get people’s palates to change with the seasons.”

Even the beers, wines and cocktails served at the various Harvest locations reflect one-of-a-kind regional flair. Such choices are thoroughly mulled over and decided upon with care by a team that is helmed by David Steiger, director of operations.

Each Harvest location offers 40 or more wines by the glass. Beyond the vast selection, customers can feel good knowing that the bulk of those wines are farmed following “green winemaking practices”—that is, source ingredients are largely farmed sustainably, in biodynamic, biodiverse, even carbon-neutral environments that promote the best possible health for the product and, thereby, the patron.

The beers are “all local drafts and bottles,” Steiger notes. This is a boon to patrons considering the bountiful options for locally made brews. “When it comes to local beer, it’s very important to consider each location separately,” he says, noting, “local craft drafts are always changing.”

Cocktails, too, are innovative and fresh. Steiger takes great pride in the cocktail program throughout the Harvest family of restaurants. By promoting many bartenders and managers from within, Harvest creates a staff that is familiar with the Harvest brand and philosophy, all contributing to the best product for the guest.

“I’ve been doing cocktails since Day One,” Steiger says. “They have been a lot of fun for me; they allow my creative aspects to run free.”

Steiger consults with the kitchen staff in devising cocktails to get chefs’ perspectives on the boldest ingredients that can be incorporated in drinks each season. One summer stunner, the lavender mojito, was the product of such collaboration. The cocktail featured vanilla rum, fresh mint, and lavender sugar. Steiger refers to it as “almost an angelic drink.”

Soon, more guests than ever will be able to enjoy Harvest. In 2017, Magrogan expects to open four new Harvest locations, with four or five more planned for 2018.

“Harvest fits my lifestyle and the lifestyle of my family,” Magrogan notes. “If I’m shopping that way to cook at home, where can I eat dinner? Very few restaurants have a culinary philosophy to match Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I understand how eating well is important to overall health. Now, I feed consumers the way I feed my kids.”

For more information on Harvest restaurant locations throughout the area, or for more information on any of the restaurants in the Dave Magrogan family of establishments, visit

Photograph courtesy of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar