First there was Fairway. The legendary grocery market firmly planted a Food Flag at Harbor Point, back when the former industrial peninsula was just a cluster of earth movers, gutted factories and towering cranes in Stamford's South End.
Today this 3.5 Billion dollar redevelopment project (maybe America's biggest) teems with residences, offices, retail, and yes, its first restaurants like the new Harlan Social that's just opened across from Fairway Market.
"My job over the next couple of years is to transform Harbor Point into a dining hotspot , Jon Sabrowski told CTBites. He's the leasing director of Building and Land Technology, developer of the 100 acre mixed use site. Sabrowski, a restaurant and real estate veteran, agreed to give CTBites an exclusive sneak peek at the Food Future of this amazing, newly minted city within a city.
Soon, Harbor Point will boast a staggering 7.5 million square feet of office, residential, and retail space .And 10,000 people will live, work and shop here. They will also dine. Indeed, this affluent and savvy crowd will insist on a full spectrum of dining options, from trendy to takeout. Sabrowski points out that a third of a million people live within a short walk or drive fromf Harbor Point, and the restaurant scene there will also attract destination dining to the peninsula..
All that’s coming soon. But for now, here are the early food and dining choices already open or formally leased in the Harbor Point area.
FAIRWAY MARKET, Spirits, and Cafe. 80,000 feet of gourmet groceries, including specialty shops for cheese, seafood, meat, smoked fish, oils and coffees. The 80 seat Café, overlooking Harbor Point, hosts over 3000 diners a week .
699 Canal Street
HARLAN SOCIAL, A New York style gastropub. Now Open.
121 Towne St.
LE PAIN QUOTIEN -- Stamford outpost of the world-wide Belgian bakery and cafe, featuring fresh baked organic breads, pastries, waffles and other treats.
711 Canal Street
DINOSAUR BBQ -- the famed Syracuse rib joint, opens October in one of the old Yale and Towne factory buildings. The best BBQ in America? Let the heated debates begin.
845 Canal Street
WHIP “eat well” -- Hanna Gorman WHIPS up breakfast and lunch for new residents and workers on the go. Tasty “Whipwiches” and Wraps, Salads and Soups. Already a Harbor Point hot spot.
36 Dyke Lane
(203) 325 3595
MR. FROSTY – Burger, Dogs, Cones and more from the people behind Beach Burger in Norwalk. A free-standing building in Commons Park recalls Shake Shack’s iconic Shack in Madison Park.
100 Washington Bld.
DOLCE CUBANO AND RUM BAR – At the waterfront location of the old Paradise Grill, Cuban Cuisine and lots of Rum from Nick Racanelli Sr. & Jr, proprietors of ZaZa in downtown Stamford and Molto Wine Bar in Fairfield. Opening in October.
78 Southfield Ave.
SUBWAY -- as in Subway. Sandwiches on the run.
711 Canal Street
ROBEKS – The Subway of smoothies.
711 Canal Street
HALF FULL BREWERY -- Stamford’s first craft brewery. Their beer is available on tap at Harlan Social. While not a pub, HFB and founder Conor Horrigan will soon begin offering public tours, tastings and classes.
43 Homestead Avenue
Although open for years, these South End landmarks also contribute to HP's restaurant scene.
ECLISSE -- Economical Northern Italian cuisine served Family Style.
700 Canal Street.
THE CRAB SHELL -- Seafood fare at a relaxed, scenic waterfront location.
46 Southfield Avenue
What excited BLT about Harbor Point was, in fact, the Harbor, much of it unavailable to the public because of industrial siting. All that has changed with construction and landscaping of the waterfront Square, the residential and office development that includes the serene new Commons Park. Sabrowski confided he is in talks to bring at least two waterfront seafooders to the beautiful new two level boardwalk.
Until the leases are signed, Jon is not free to divulge names, but he expects one fish restaurant will likely be local and the other more branded. They will be open "within a year," and both will overlook the new seaside promenade and rely on local sourcing. Here’s one potential site, a free standing all glass building that brings the waterfront indoors.
Diners will enjoy other seaside options. From the boardwalk, water taxis will ferry them across the canal to DOLCE CUBANO and THE CRAB SHELL.
Unlike eatery-dense downtown Stamford, Harbor Point's restaurants will be complimentary, rather than competitive, and parking will never be a problem.
"We won’t' have 4 Italian restaurants vying for customers on the same block.," Jon told us. “Ensemble” characterizes the planning. For instance BLT would like to locate a Pizza-type emporium across the street from Dinosaur BBQ. A perfect match.
That's why he is in discussions to locate an organic healthy restaurant nearby exhale, a spa whose patrons are looking for alternative bites after classes. As another example of such complimentary planning, Sabrowski envisions an Asian noodle shop plying customers across the street from an eclectic American.
Harbor Point will enjoy two distinct dining districts. With its parks and waterside location, Harbor Point Square operates at a more relaxed pace, and the dining will reflect that easier cadence. (This will also be the site of a new boutique Hotel, which will open within the year. As yet there is no restaurant planned.)
The Historic district near the Fairway location, with its lofts and post industrial affect exudess a more hip, urban and trendy vibe. A gastropub like Steven Lewandowski’s HARLAN SOCIAL perfectly expresses this “Lower Manhattan” mood; and Jon is in conversation with other restaurant stars to open complimentary breakthrough restaurants.
Despite the gaggle of chain restaurants that have recently opened in the outdoor plaza at Stamford’s Town Center, the city has never been attracted to franchised dining. "You won't see a Cheescake Factory in Harbor Point," Sabrowski assured us.. He is talking to the top restaurateurs in.Connecticut, Westchester and the City with unique menus crafted around local tastes and sourcing.
Someday he may bring food trucks to the Boardwalk and perhaps open a night time Farmer's Market in Harbor Point Square.
Sabrowski’s goal is to create a dining scene at Harbor Point “unlike anything else on the Connecticut Coast.” Complimentary choices. Urban restaurants in a hip environment just a block or so away from relaxed waterfront venues. Ample parking.
And great eats.
Jon is disappointed that a prospect he’s been courting for almost a year has decided not to open at Harbor Point.
“But things change here overnight,” he told us and pointed out the window at Infinity, the new 22 story apartment building across the street. “Just a year ago,” he told us. “That was a hole in the ground.
As if by wizardry, a few hours later, Harlan Social’s Steven Lewandowski confided to us that he is considering opening second transformative restaurant at Stamford’s new Boom Town. “Harbor Point ‘s dining is going to be amazing,” he said.