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February 9, 2018

Harry’s restaurant aiming to expand Airlie’s appeal

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Airlie spent more than $750,000 to renovate the space for Harry’s.
Airlie Executive Director Chuck Smith and Chef Duane DuPrey.
Although on the ground floor of Airlie House, Harry’s has a wall of windows facing the lake.
Bartender Alyssa Dietrich pours one of the craft beers on tap.
We needed a fresh approach to our customer base. We wanted to be an option for our local clientele in Warrenton. We felt like they needed another place to go.
— Airlie Executive Director Chuck Smith
• What: Restaurant serving burgers, flat bread, oysters, salads and other items, with most produce and meat from Airlie’s farm.

• Where: 6809 Airlie Road, Warrenton; ground floor of Airlie House.

• Entrees: $10 to $25.

• Beverages: Craft beers, wine and full bar.

• Employees: 30 full- and part-time.

• Space: 1,500 square feet with room for about 90 people.

• Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday to Sunday; 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

• Phone: 540-428-7156

• Facebook: Click here

• Website: Click here

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Staff Journalist
If his plan works, Airlie’s new restaurant will draw more local customers to the conference center just north of Warrenton.

Executive Director Chuck Smith led development of Harry’s, the new eatery on Airlie House’s lower level, with a wall of windows facing a lake.

Open since early December, Harry’s features meat and produce grown at Airlie Berkshire Farm on the 300-acre property.

“We needed a fresh approach to our customer base,” Mr. Smith said. “We wanted to be an option for our local clientele in Warrenton. We felt like they needed another place to go.”

The 1,500-square-foot space resembles a winery with decorative barrels overhead and extensive wood and stonework. Formerly a conference room, the space underwent about seven months of renovations last year. Airlie spent more than $750,000 on the project, including two restrooms and new kitchen equipment.

With a casual atmosphere, cozy booths and lots of natural light, the restaurant can seat 90 people. It also has a patio facing the lake.

The menu features black Angus beef, raised on the property.

“We have control of the product I think that nobody else has,” Mr. Smith said. “We know what they’ve eaten, how they’ve lived, how we’ve treated them and how they were harvested.”

Airlie’s staff picked about 50,000 pounds of vegetables from its 20-acre production garden planted in 2017. This year’s crop, starting in April, will supply fresh vegetables for the restaurant.

American University received Airlie as a donation in 2016 and has since invested millions of dollars to improve the campus.

“Part of the reason we went back to farming is because we believe there’s a heritage to this place,” Mr. Smith said. “We wanted to pay homage to the heritage by reintroducing cattle and row crops.”

The new restaurant’s name pays homage to Harry Groome, a wealthy and influential Fauquier County citizen who built Airlie House 119 years ago.

“What was started in 1899, we are trying to build upon,” Mr. Smith said. “Have some good beer on tap, amazing food you’ll talk about to all your friends and a customer service experience that will exceed your expectations.”

Warrenton banker Amelia Stansell has visited Harry’s about seven times since in opened.

“It’s something different,” Ms. Stansell said. “They have a good menu. The portions are huge for the price. It’s an easy drive from town.”

Harry’s also offers carry-out and plans to host several special events.

In 2014, Airlie opened the Garden Bistro, a fancier restaurant, to the public, but it lasted a couple of years. Harry’s presents a more relaxed atmosphere.

“I think what we are going for is a place where people can come have a drink or a beer, but also have the most amazing food they’ve had in the county,” Mr. Smith said. “I don’t want people to ever worry about putting on a tie to come eat really, really good food.”

Sheila Young from Gainesville visited recently for lunch with two friends.

“They have a great variety, lots to choose from,” Ms. Young said.

The best-selling menu items so far include the heritage beef chili and crab and sweet corn hush puppies, according to Chef Duane DuPrey.

“Harry’s kitchen is at about 95 percent from scratch,” Mr. DuPrey said. “The only things we are not producing are cheeses and breads.”

The menu routinely will change during peak growing season when about 80 percent of produce will come from the farm.

“The chef will be out there in the summer picking the tomatoes he wants to use,” Mr. Smith said.

In the winter months, the kitchen will use pickled and preserved vegetables from the garden and purchase what it needs to meet demand.

“We’re in our slow season, and that gives us the opportunity to refine what we want to be,” Mr. Smith said. “When we hit our peak season in terms of the highest occupancy rates for groups at Airlie, it matches our growing season.”

He added, “We are going to keep changing things up until it’s the right mix of what people want and what we’re good at.”

Toni and Chris Sauder from Warrenton stopped by Harry’s for lunch for the first time last week.

“I happened to see them on Facebook,” Mrs. Sauder said. “It has pretty views, good craftsmanship, décor.”

“The service is great,” her husband added.
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Woodchuck · February 15, 2018 at 4:34 am
Good food, Great burgers!
BJ · February 10, 2018 at 8:54 am
It was a lucky day when American University took over Airlie! That place was suffering from lack of funds and neglect. Best of luck in your endeavors AMU! It's a beautiful Venue!
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