BENTON HARBOR — When patrons come to Houndstooth, Cheyenne and James Galbraith want them to have an experience.
It’s been seven months since the brother and sister duo secured funding through a Kickstarter venture for their new restaurant, which has created a good deal of anticipation throughout the Benton Harbor Arts District.
Having held soft openings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Galbraiths are prepping for their official grand opening Friday.
“We’ve learned a lot in the last 12 months for sure,” Cheyenne said. “It’s been very humbling to see how much help we’ve needed to do it and how ready the community was to step in and help us in any way they could.”
The Galbraiths’ father built the tables and benches, and Ken Ankli – owner of the restaurant’s building and former owner of Brammall Supply – donated some supplies to be added into the main counter in the restaurant.
Customers who sit at the counter might see random screws and nuts that were used for one of Benton Harbor’s oldest businesses.
“We are opening very slowly because we feel we have one chance to make that first impression,” Cheyenne said.
They initially planned for a June opening, but renovations and securing the appropriate permits took longer than expected.
“My advice for any new business owner is take your opening date and push it out at least three months,” James said. “It’s not going to happen when you think it will.”
With vinyl music set to play in the background, natural light flooding in through large windows and exposed brick used in contrast to the marbleized countertop, the Galbraiths are adding their own twist to the dining experience.
The Galbraiths have more than 30 years of combined culinary experience, including time spent at Bistro on the Boulevard.
They’ve kept themselves busy with not only the renovation of the business, but holding several pop-up events at Mason Jar Cafe and the Hawk’s Nest.
Then they got a call last summer from Ankli, who was in the process of building four lofts at 132 Pipestone St. – the future site of Houndstooth – and wanted a nice restaurant to open downstairs.
Houndstooth has a seating capacity of 50 and a staff of 15. Among their staff is a lead bartender from Chicago who the Galbraiths have referred to as “next level.”
The Livery also brewed a special beer for the restaurant – which can only be served at Houndstooth – called “Houdini.” It’s a hazy pale ale named after Cheyenne’s dog.
The cuisine will be “New American,” which includes Midwest recipes and Mexican and Asian flavor profiles.
They have been in touch with several area farmers so the restaurant can use fresh, farm-grown products from Sister Lakes, Eau Claire and Coloma.
The majority of the menu will consist of shareables.
“When we go out to eat, we like to share our food and eat a bunch of things,” James said. “A large portion of our menu will be shareables, with the exception of four big plates.”
The menu will also be hyper-seasonal. Houndstooth will not have a physical menu to show what the specials are – because the entire menu is special, James said.
“Every couple weeks, something will leave the menu and something will be added,” James said.
Cheyenne said: “We do that to keep ourselves creative and continuing learning. We want people to come back to try new things.”
To make a reservation, patrons can make one online at www.eathoundstooth.com. The restaurant also welcomes walk-ins for open tables.
For now, Houndstooth is open 5-9 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday (with the bar remaining open until 10 p.m.) and 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (with the bar open until 11 p.m.). The phone number is 269-252-5250.
Houndstooth is closed Sunday and Monday. However, the Galbraiths said they plan to open for brunch on Sunday next month in addition to the other weekdays. The restaurant will remain closed Monday.
In the next few years, the Galbraiths said they hope the restaurant is the same size and in the same shape that it is now.
However, they admitted they would like to see another restaurant open under their name.
“We feel it would be a shame to waste all that we’ve learned on this place,” James said.
Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski