By Gary Jacques
Harper’s Restaurant, located at 601 Friendly Road in Greensboro (Friendly Center), offers guests a casual dining experience featuring an American-style menu. There is something for everyone –from wood-fired specialties to fresh seafood, Carolina BBQ, bountiful salads, desserts, and much more.
“Our culinary focus at Harper’s is to make everything from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients possible, delivered from the finest local farmers and purveyors,” says Proprietor Mark Sienko. “Our eggs, for example, are locally sourced from Massy Creek Farms and we get Climax Red Tomatoes each year to use for our annual Tomato Fest celebration.”
Frequent guests to Harper’s can attest to the deliciousness of the restaurant’s signature items: Six Cheese Penne Pasta, Slow Smoked Danish Baby Back Ribs, Proprietary Pit Cooked Carolina Barbeque, Hickory Scottish Salmon (considered by many customers to be the best in Greensboro) Fresh Ground Burgers, and homemade dressings and sauces. “Cooking on a wood-fired grill makes a huge difference,” says Sienko. “The source of the flavor is aged hickory – it’s like cooking on a campfire. Everything is unique.”
For dessert lovers, Harper’s has a few guest favorites that are always on the menu, like the restaurant’s half-pound Baked Skillet Cookie, topped with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. There are some seasonal treats, too. The Key Lime Pie, for example, is one of those desserts that Harper’s guests look forward to each year. (This writer can attest that the taste, texture, flavor, crust, and overall sweetness is worthy of multiple visits when Key Lime Pie is on the menu.)
Delivering fresh, delicious food is paramount but Sienko says that genuine hospitality is the real key to the company’s culture. “We strive to make our guests feel comfortable from the time they step inside the door. We want to deliver a dining experience that is second to none.”
Charlotte-based Harper’s Restaurant Group owns 7 restaurants in the Carolinas: two Harper’s Restaurants in Charlotte, along with fine dining establishments Mimosa Grill and Upstream; a Harper’s Restaurant and new venture, 1801 Grille, both in Columbia, SC. The company was started by President Tom Sasser and his partners back in 1987 when they opened their first Harper’s Restaurant on Woodlawn Road in Charlotte, close to sporting venues and major attractions. They expanded to Greensboro in 1996.
For 20 years, charitable giving and community support have been an essential part of the Harper’s mission, says Sienko. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the company reaches out and helps whenever possible.
For instance, the restaurant worked with local schools during Teacher Appreciation Week by putting together gift baskets for the teachers. When Northwest Middle School won the state Odyssey of the Mind competition, Harper’s volunteered goods and services for a barbeque dinner. This helped raise $2,000 for a student trip.
Over the past 10 years, Western Guilford High School special needs students have been arriving at Harper’s each weekday at 9:30 a.m. to help out – polishing silverware, folding napkins, and wiping down tables. Harper’s was nominated as “best overall business” for their effort and Mark Sienko was proud to accept the award from Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan. “Many of these students return with their families at graduation. We feel like we were a small stepping stone in their progress.”
In addition, Harper’s Restaurant has long been a supporter of community organizations. Harper’s welcomes special menu requests. “We work closely with the UNCG (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) basketball and baseball programs, preparing pre-game meals for the entire home season. Spartan Club members also receive a discount at Harper’s and we accommodate them on their special food requests,” says Sienko. “It’s a feel good thing and we love being a part of their season.”
One of the Harper’s Group’s most important projects each year is promoting and supporting Share Our Strength (SOS), which helps to reduce childhood hunger across the country. Throughout the year, the restaurant gives back from the sales of special items to help the No Kid Hungry project by SOS.
What’s happening at Harper’s?
There is always something going on at Harper’s. You might see Chef John Smith on WFMY News 2 grilling up a great prime rib or promoting its popular Avocado Tomato and Crab Stack. If you are a social media follower of Harper’s, you are likely to see what the latest specials being featured are or the newest drink offered at the bar.
“Harper’s strives to be open to new ideas and food trends, says Sienko. “ “We stay in tune with what’s trending, especially with social media. In fact, we have a manager who is dedicated to keeping our sites updated and current.”
If you are interested in learning more about what’s coming up at Harper’s, consider signing up for their E-club at www.harpersgroup.com.
Harper’s is located at 601 Friendly Center Road, Greensboro, NC 27408. Hours: Monday -Thursday – 11:15 am – 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:15 am – 11:00 pm, Sunday brunch-10:30am – 2:30 pm, dinner- 2:30 pm – 9:00 pm. For more information, please contact Harper’s at (336) 299-8850 or www.harpersgroup.com.