By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Union Square Partnership raised more than $378,000 for the 21st annual Harvest in the Square that took place at the end of last month, raising more than in any previous year. The amount brings the fundraising total to more than $5,728,000 in the last two decades.
Since it started in 1995, the event has grown to include more than 50 local restaurants and 15 wineries and breweries, including old neighborhood favorites like Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Blue Water Grill, as well as newcomers like The Poke Spot, sweetgreen, Cava Grill and Flats Fix.
Salad-focused sweetgreen has only been in the neighborhood since last December but Roopa Shankar, who attended her first Harvest this year, said that she talked to attendees from previous years who noticed a definite increase in restaurants similar to the DC-based chain.
“There’s a lot more fast-casual food that’s also healthy this year,” she said.
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café, which has been at Harvest since the beginning since Meyer was one of the event’s founding members, was in the unique position of celebrating their imminent opening despite being an old standby in the neighborhood. The restaurant is debuting a new space on East 19th Street later this month but is also expanding their reach to a new venture called Daily Provisions.
Max Rockoff, formerly a manager at the Union Square Café, will be assistant general manager at the outpost that will be next door to the restaurant’s new location.
Michael Vignola, a former Stuyvesant Town resident, is the corporate chef at Strip House, located on East 12th Street. He decided on the 72-hour short rib for this year’s Harvest but he said that picking what to feature for the event isn’t always easy.
“It’s tough because you don’t know if it’s going to be 80 degrees like it is tonight or if it’s going to be cold,” he said of the fickle fall weather.
Chef Francesco Gallo, who started working at the Union Square location of Tarallucci e Vino in February and recently moved to the new location on East 28th Street, said he created the roasted porchetta with apples specifically for Harvest, also featuring vendors from the greenmarket.
“It’s a good vibe,” he said of the event. “It’s the first day of fall and it really gets you in the spirit of the season.”