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Business Beat: News and updates on San Juan Capistrano’s business community
By Brian Park
Harlow’s Fine Cuisine & Crafted Cocktails
31111 Rancho Viejo Road, 949.240.8100
City and business leaders gathered at Marbella Plaza to welcome San Juan Capistrano’s newest restaurant, Harlow’s Fine Cuisine & Crafted Cocktails, with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 10.
Harlow’s boasts a small but eclectic menu that changes regularly, depending on what ingredients are in season and their local availability. All meat, seafood and produce items are bought strictly from environmentally conscious suppliers, according to the restaurant’s website. All food items are also guaranteed to be free of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, and all meats are antibiotic and hormone free. The menu also denotes which dishes contain nuts, are gluten and dairy free and are vegetarian and vegan friendly.
“I eat extremely healthy, quality foods at home and if I would not bring something into the kitchen at my house, it certainly won’t be in the kitchen at my restaurant,” owner Bonnie Harlow Kingston told The Dispatch in an interview in November when the restaurant was still under construction.
The restaurant’s bar features a cocktail menu inspired by prohibition-era drinks as well as contemporary recipes. Cocktails range in price from $11 to $14. Harlow’s also offers wine by the glass and a selection of local beers.
On Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Harlow’s offers a special three-course brunch for $29 and bottomless champagne for $6. Brunch is also accompanied by live musical performances.
Private party reservations and catering is also available.
Guapas Tapas & Wine Bar
26762 Verdugo Street, Suite C
The finishing touches are still being added at Guapas Tapas & Wine Bar, but the staff has been assembled and the new restaurant’s owner and head chef are eyeing a grand opening in about two weeks.
Tapas is a Spanish style of cuisine that features smaller, appetizer-like dishes that are meant to be enjoyed with a drink and shared in the company of friends to encourage conversation.
Owner John Muniz and head chef Matthew Brady did their research on other tapas restaurants in Orange County, and they believe the concept has legs in San Juan Capistrano.
“It makes sense to be here because of the Mission and the Spanish history,” Muniz said. “It’s simple comfort food, but people in Orange County expect a certain level of quality, so we’re trying to set up a whole experience here and create a social place.”
Although tapas comes from Spain, Brady said his menu shows a distinct global influence and will feature local organic ingredients. Guapas will carry popular tapas items like patatas bravas, a spicy potato dish, and ceviche, which are all meant to be paired with specialty craft beers and wines.
Brady, a certified craft beer expert, or cicerone, and Muniz, himself a certified sommelier and former bartender, have put together a lineup of 44 bottled craft beers and 12 rotating beers on tap.
“A lot of our beers will be Southern California and west coast based, but we’ll also have beers from all over the world,” Muniz said.
Guapas will not carry well-known beers like Budweiser or Miller products. However, the entire staff has been trained to help customers select beers to their taste, pair beers with certain dishes and samplers will also be available.
“The cool thing about this craft beer movement is that it’s a lot like wine because you can pair them with the food we’re making,” Brady said.
When Guapas officially opens, Muniz said the restaurant will be able to seat up to 60 guests indoors and another 40 in an outdoor lounge. The restaurant will be open at 10:30 a.m. everyday, close at 2 a.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and close at 9:30 p.m. all other days.
The Chamber of Commerce has tentatively scheduled a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening mixer on Thursday, June 13.