CORNELIUS – Beer is a big deal at Harvey’s.
There are 24 beers on tap running through a system set up and installed by the two young owners, Charlie Dyer and Luke Adams. The taps are always changing, rotating through 20 small craft breweries. This gives the restaurant the feel of a brewpub without the actual brewery.
The passion for beer is matched with an equal passion for food. The menu is full of old favorites and items with more panache: salmon tacos, hummus sandwiches and jalapeño coleslaw.
Dyer and Adams met in their teens at the now closed Hayden’s restaurant in Pineville. Adams trained Dyer as a host at the restaurant. Then Adams left for Appalachian State University. By the time he came back, Dyer had moved up and then trained him in the kitchen. Dyer eventually joined Adams at Appalachian State and the two even roomed together for a year.
After college, they worked at different restaurants, eventually moving up to management positions. Dyer left the restaurant business for a short time but when he saw the originally Harvey’s for sale in Huntersville, he immediately called his old pal, and the two decided to go into business together.
The original owner named it after the Jimmy Stewart movie of the same name. A customer finally talked Dyer into watching the movie.
“It was really good,” Dyer said with a huge grin. “Now I know our restaurant is named after a huge, imaginary rabbit!”
The Harvey’s in Huntersville was doing well, Dyer and Adams decided to replicate their success.
The spot they decided on in Cornelius has been dead zone for restaurants, housing a failed Gator’s Hometown Bar and Grill among others. But this did not daunt the duo.
“We know that Cornelius needs a sit-down, family-friendly restaurant where you can grab a good beer and watch some football,” Dyer said.
They affectionately call this Harvey’s H2.
Dyer’s mother and sister helped decorate the interior and Adam’s brothers made the distressed wood tables in the back room. Dyer and Adams also installed an intricate, innovative taproom in the back of the restaurant to maintain the correct temperature and carbonation of each and every beer.
“Nine times out of 10, beer is over-carbonated,” Dyer said. “So we did this ourselves to ensure quality and keep costs down. We learned so much about lines and how to save as much beer as possible.”
The Harvey’s in Cornelius often hosts beer tastings with local outfits, such Raleigh-based Lonerider brewery.
The food pairings are not pretzels and cheese dips, they are well thought out, gourmet selections not found on the main menu. An appetizer, salad, entree and dessert are grouped with a beer.
For example, tequila-soaked shrimp on romaine with a creamy lime chili dressing is served with a malty Mad Doc Weizenbock to temper the tang.
Dyer tastes each beer and helps the chefs create dishes to match and compliment the flavors. For one beer tasting, he created a beeramisu, a play on the classic tiramisu, by soaking the ladyfingers in Deadeye Jack Porter instead of coffee and rum.
It turns out to be an evening marked with excellent food, tasty beers and an education in a local brewery. Dyer plans on more beer tastings at both Harvey’s locations plus adding bourbon tastings, as well.