Don’t walk into looking for Harvey — you won’t find one there.
And don’t look for a sign advertising the landmark luncheonette on the giant stone Sabal Ridge Shopping Center marquee facing U.S. 19 — there isn’t one.
What you will find when you walk into Harvey’s are the Wainrights, Mike and Marsha, the longtime owners of the eatery who are in the restaurant almost every hour of every day it is open.
Palm Harbor Patch recently sat down with Marsha Wainright to learn the secret to staying in business for more than 20 years, what the restaurant's most popular menu items are, and who the heck Harvey is.
How long have you been in business?
My husband bought the business from an older couple when it was located a couple of miles north of here in 1988. We moved to this location in 1992 so we could add sit-down dining.
How did you get started in the restaurant business?
Mike was born in Tampa and worked in a barbecue restaurant in an office building there. When the building closed, he started looking for something of his own. He wanted to start small … and he found this place when the previous owners were selling.
I was a tennis director and instructor in Tampa at the time, but I left and came to work with him soon after he took over. We’ve been doing it ever since.
How have you been able to stay in business for so long?
Everything is fresh. The bread is brought in daily; I pick the produce up locally every morning. Everything is made to order and homemade, and that is definitely popular with people. Plus our prices are reasonable, which makes a difference in a tough economy.
We put out a good product, and we obviously care. We're always here, which is hard to find these days.
And we have very good customers that we’ve become friends with over the years. Kids who used to come in when they were 10 years old now come in with their kids. It makes you feel old, but it’s good!
What are some of the most popular items you serve?
Our Cuban sandwich is what we’re known for. Our homemade chicken salad is very popular. And people say we have the best BLT in town because all the ingredients are fresh.
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve considered adding breakfast or dinner to the menu, but we have all we can handle with our lunch crowd right now. But we just signed a new lease, so we don’t plan on going anywhere.
Here’s the question everyone wants to know the answer to: Who is Harvey?
There is no Harvey. I think the previous owner had the movie “Harvey” in mind when he named it, but no one is Harvey. That’s the secret.
Address: 33839 U.S. 19 N. (Sabal Ridge Shopping Center)
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday