At the age of 15, Garrett Harker found his calling in the restaurant industry. Today, as a nationally-respected restaurateur known for his hands-on approach, he has achieved enduring success while ensuring that every element of his establishments stay true to his personal philosophy of hospitality.
High school years in his hometown of Baltimore were spent bussing table and washing dishes. After graduation from Pomona College, Garrett moved to San Francisco to work for the Kimpton Group. Quickly rising through the ranks, Garrett became the youngest general manager in the company’s history during his tenure at Donna Scala’s urban outpost Scala’s Bistro.
Family obligations brought him to Boston in 1998, where he took a chance by coming on board as General Manager for a soon-to-open restaurant called No. 9 Park. Upon his first meeting with No. 9 owner Barbara Lynch, Garrett recognized a similar passion in her as he saw in himself. Together they built one of the deepest management teams in the industry, and No. 9 became known as an innovator in staff education and development. It remains one of Boston’s most beloved restaurants. In 2003, Barbara and Garrett opened the white-hot B&G Oysters, a 38 seat oyster bar in Boston’s South End. They followed that success with the nationally renowned wine bar, The Butcher Shop, across the street.
In May of 2005 Garrett ventured off on his own, opening Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks in Kenmore Square. In what was once a barren and gritty section of the city best known for college students, seedy clubs and baseball, Garrett’s innate approach of engaging diners on every visit through food, drink and service proved unbeatable. ES is nationally recognized for its robust cocktail program, trailblazing wine list, and New England interpretation of classic brasserie fare. From the beginning, their charcuterie program and efforts to advance the “nose-to-tail” philosophy has made it a destination for the serious traveling diner, as well as a hangout for the local restaurant industry.
In October of 2010, Garrett opened his next restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar, also in Kenmore Square. In partnership with Island Creek Oysters’ Skip Bennett and Eastern Standard Executive Chef Jeremy Sewall, Island Creek Oyster Bar weaves the vision and ideals of the farmer into a vibrantly comfortable space dedicated to bringing the restaurant to the farm by offering guests the opportunity to eat, drink, discover and discuss where our food comes from and learn why it matters.
In November of 2011, Garrett opened The Hawthorne with longtime Eastern Standard and ICOB Bar Director, Jackson Canon. Pairing Jackson’s national reputation for the finest in craft cocktails with a space that commands the heightened focus on hospitality, comfort and geniality that has become expected in all of Garrett’s establishments, The Hawthorne rounds out the Kenmore Square food and dining experience.
No matter the situation, his insistence that his people work from a place of passion and a commitment to hospitality continues to set him and his team apart. Time in the restaurants is still spent bussing tables; time away from the restaurants means time with his two teenage daughters or advocating for the industry in his position on the Massachusetts Restaurant Industry’s Board of Directors. Today widely considered one of Boston’s leading restaurateurs, Garrett continues to raise the bar in Boston.