Harveys Restaurant Celebrates 30 Years
February 17, 2012 -
Columbus, MS -- When Northeast Mississippians think of dining out for a business lunch or special occasion, most often Harveys is the name that comes to mind. Established in 1982, Harveys' reputation is one of providing consistently good food and exceptional service.
John Bean and his mother Myrrl Bean, along with family friend Harvey Seifert, opened the original Harveys at the University Inn in Starkville. In 1984, that restaurant moved to its present location on Highway 12, and a second restaurant was opened in Columbus. Then, in 1989, the Tupelo restaurant was established, with brother Bernard Bean joining the family business as manager of that location.
John, Myrrl, and Bernard Bean
Harveys’ success is largely due to its focus on providing excellent meals in an atmosphere that meets the needs of all patrons regardless of their dining preferences.
"Our customer at lunch might be the guy in jeans who just wants a good hamburger, and it might also be the business executive entertaining clients who orders the prime rib," says John Bean. "Day and night, we provide a warm atmosphere and a menu that is diverse in offerings and price."
Long time patron Tommy Tomlinson of Starkville agrees, saying, "I've been a customer of Harveys since 1983. The consistently excellent quality of their food, the service of their highly trained staff and the Harveys atmosphere are perfect for entertaining business clients or for personal occasions."
In fact, aside from compliments about the food, Harveys' service is what receives the most attention.
"We hire great attitudes," explains Bean. "Our systems are not that different from most restaurants, but we make sure we hire people who enjoy life and enjoy serving others. We look for employees who just naturally have smiles on their faces."
One of those "great attitude" people 27 years ago was Darlene Comish. She came to work at Harveys as a server while in college. After graduation, she assisted in the move to the new Starkville location becoming the general manager. Eventually shifting to the corporate offices of parent company Eat With Us Group, she served for 20 years in various roles in the accounting, human resources, marketing and other departments. Today, she is in the banking business.
"Harveys is a vital part of every community it serves," says Comish. "The Bean family cares about the communities in which they live and serve, encouraging all of their management staff to become involved in the community and give back. They taught me the meaning of hard work with rewards."
In considering what enabled the restaurant to succeed early on, Bean credits his family for their involvement.
"Because my mother and Harvey Seifert backed the business, I had time to make mistakes and figure out what I was doing," says Bean. "I didn't have a bank payment every month. Then when Bernard joined the business, he had experience with national chain restaurants, so he brought in fresh perspective. It was a good collaboration of different viewpoints."
Today, the Beans' Eat With Us Group has been joined by Robert Fort, Pat Campeau and Robin Fant, who brought his restaurant, Bulldog Deli, into the fold. With Harveys as its anchor, Eat With Us has developed the Grill restaurants in Starkville, Columbus and Tupelo and the highly successful Sweet Peppers Deli franchise. It was Bulldog Deli that served as the model on which the Sweet Peppers Deli concept was created. In 2000, John and Bernard Bean's sister Blair Hughes added Park Heights, a fine dining establishment in Tupelo. There are 24 Eat With Us restaurants in total.
John Bean attributes their success to an intentional growth strategy, stating, "We have always allowed one restaurant to become fully established and well-functioning before opening another."
And how does Bean measure success? In customer satisfaction.
"When people leave Harveys we want them to feel like they got a satisfying meal and attentive service," he shares. "In short, we want them to leave happy and ready to recommend us to their friends."
The Bean family invites their customers to join them at any of the three Harveys locations the week of February 27, to enjoy some favorites from the 1982 menu at the 1982 prices. It is their way of saying thank you to their many loyal patrons.
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