Harmon Tap Room to integrate with The Hub

By Ron Swarner on May 8, 2014

Whatever you do, don't call the Harmon Brewing Company's Stadium District restaurants "McMenamins."

I made the mistake of dropping that term during a conversation with co-owner Pat Nagle about his remodel plans to make the Harmon Tap Room and The Hub more of a destination. "It's not McMenamins," he shot back. "We're not adding a hotel or movie theater."

I've known Nagle for some time. I've never met someone more passionate about the restaurant and brewery business. If he says his new plan doesn't mimic McMenamins then, hey, I'm not calling it either (although I did notice a slight smile on the man's face).

Nagle, and his business partner, Carole Ford, are transforming the Harmon Tap Room, and in a way The Hub above it, into one single destination for families. Phase one is nearly complete. The Tap Room's outdoor beer garden has been remodeled, complete with new tables and concrete walkways. If you're thinking dirndl-wearing beer maids bearing big tankards of frothy lager, think again. You need to think families - dining outdoors, under Tivoli lights, next to a fancy new fence, with giant Jenga games and music on the way, only to be interrupted by the brewmasters wheeling kegs toward the cold storage. The keg highway through the beer garden, or Harmon Garden as it now is known, will disappear in June.

The Harmon, like many other breweries across the nation, is aspiring to be more than just a place where patrons drop in for a mug or a quick bite on the way to somewhere else.

"We have two restaurants and the huge all-ages outdoor Harmon Garden, a private events space, the brewery behind glass - it's more of a destination," says Nagle, nibbling on a Tap Room street taco, while pointing to each subject's location - including The Hub straight above. The Tap Room turned family-friendly this year, but the outdoor beer garden was a 21 and older hangout. If you take your beer out to one of the Garden's long, wood tables today, don't be surprised when two fifth-grade St. Pat's students slam down their root beers on the same table and high-five because their teacher, Mr. Moore, is "rockin' cool."

Over the next four to six weeks, Nagle and Ford will remodel the stairway between the two restaurants, allowing an easy flow.

"The only outdoor seating at The Hub is in the bar. If a family wants pizza or a pulled pork grinder in the sunshine, down the stairs they can descend and out to the Harmon Garden," explains Nagle. "It's that easy."

Other changes include a freshening of the Tap Room's facade. In June, expect to see window dressings and awnings. Wood fencing has replaced the chain fence around the Garden.

As I mention, the keg route to cold storage is changing.

"The area off the Tap Room's back room will be remodeled, insulated and fitted to be a bottling and keg-filling center, opening up the brewing room for more tanks," says Nagle. This will eliminate having to cart the kegs through the Harmon Garden. The kegs will soon only travel several feet into cold storage. Gone will be the crowded bottling situation in the brewing room, and awkward flow through the Garden."

Also on the way are menu changes, seasonal specials and holiday dinners.

The Hub and Harmon Tap Room should be integrated by mid-June, just in time for graduations.

Now, if there was a hotel on top of The Hub. ... Just kidding Pat!

HARMON TAP ROOM, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, all ages until 9 p.m., 204 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.2725