Once again, the Harp & Bard re-girds for changing times

Dot Ave has another new restaurant, this one near Savin Hill.

Well, it’s not new, actually – just renovated. It’s Galvin’s Harp & Bard, a longtime landmark eatery on Dorchester Avenue at the corner of Savin Hill Ave., and after a whirlwind, five-week renovation, it has reopened this week, complete with a new menu, a new chef, 10 HD TV’s, and a smart new horseshoe-shaped bar.

The place is owned by Mike Galvin, who has operated at the corner since he bought the place from his brother in 1981. He is joined in the operation by his only child, 22-year-old Maura Galvin, a recent graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans. Rounding out the team are chef Jim Wiggin, who formerly worked in Dorchester at Phillips Old Colony House, and manager Abe Ozeck, a Cheshire, CT native who is new to the Boston restaurant scene.

“Everything is changing and it’s important for restaurants to keep up with the change in order to be successful,” Maura Galvin said Tuesday. “This restaurant has been in the family since the ‘60s – it was known as Galvin’s Grill. This is actually the third massive renovation we’ve been through.”

“The neighborhood needed something different and new,” her dad Mike explained. “We have been here since 1966, I have owned it since 1981.” He rebuilt the restaurant after a March 1985 arson fire left only the brick walls; later in the 1990s, another remodeling added a series of windows on the building that wraps around the corner from Dorchester Ave. up Savin Hill Ave towards Pleasant Street. Then, early last month, he shut down for the expansive rehab of the property once again.

“Things were changing and I wanted to change with them and move forward,” Galvin says. “The area has changed from blue collar to white collar. When I first took over there were two vodkas, Gordon’s and Smirnoff. Now we carry 33 types of vodkas.”

Galvin says he will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, opening on weekdays at 11. On weekends and holidays, hours will begin at 10, with a brunch, breakfast and lunch menu served until 4 p.m.

This week and next, Galvin explains, they will observe what is referred to in the trade as a “soft opening” as new kitchen and wait staff learn their new roles and the chef tweaks the menu.

On Tuesday, as workers continued to make minor adjustments, during an afternoon lull the Galvins, father and daughter, took a short break to talk about their business and their plans. They both showed the effects of long, late hours put in during the renovations. Maura worked 18 1/2 hours on Sunday, she said, and Mike admits he has been living with very little sleep because new ideas about improving the operation continue to come to him. But he acknowledged his pride in the Harp & Bard’s reputation for good food.

“All the fish is always fresh, never frozen. I still pick it up fresh, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” Galvin said. “I would rather run out than have old, you know what I mean? We use the best ingredients – we cut our own fries, make our own cole slaw, bake our own corn bread. We are known for our corn bread.”

As for his new and expanded menu, he says new chef Wiggin will play an important role. “He’ll make anything you want as long as we have it. I told Jim, ‘The menu is changing an awful lot, I don’t want to tell someone no if I have the food in the kitchen.’ ”

Galvin’s motto for his restaurant: “A great place to meet people, welcoming, warm, great place to watch sports, a great place for meetings. We’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m, open for lunch and dinner, and there will be a late-night dinner menu, with a last serving at 11.

“We’ll also offer pizza and appetizers, even later. We will see how it happens.”

(The Harp & Bard Restaurant is located at 1099 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester 02125-1418. Telephone 617-265-2893)

Comments

With his new drink prices, Mike and Maura wont have to worry about any more "blue collar regulars" now...