Harvest Café is paying it forward
Shelbyville resident Melinda Hardin uses the word “incredible” a lot when she describes the trajectory of her restaurant. Melinda and her husband, Ben, bought two buildings on Main Street in Shelbyville to renovate, and they live in one of them. She had thought a long time about opening a café, and suddenly the timing seemed right.
“Incredible” could apply to rearranging the existing antique mall next door to their home to make room for a lunch counter, tables, and chairs. In November 2013, Melinda opened the Harvest Café, a restaurant she wasn’t even sure Shelbyville “was ready for.”
But the theme was local-food inspired, wholesome, and community-driven. She opened with salads, wraps, homemade soups, cookies and brownies, and coffee and tea. The next “incredible” came when Melinda read about a nonprofit that fed people for what they could afford. Melinda then began her traditional “pay what you can” Wednesdays, “inspired by wanting to practically love our neighbors.” Shortly after that, she set up a pay-it-forward board, where customers can pay for their own purchase and pay for a purchase for someone else. “A cup of coffee for a firefighter,” suggests Melinda, “or a cookie for a third-grader.”
Since then, the café business has grown, catering off-site and on. Harvest has longer hours, a full bar that includes more than 100 craft beers and more than 30 bourbons, wine and signature cocktails, small plates with charcuterie and cheese, live music on weekends, and weekend dinners.
Harvest Café, at 524 Main St., is open from Tuesday.–Thursday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday, 7a.m.–11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. with brunch buffet 11 a.m.–3 p.m.; closed Mondays. You can reach the café at (502) 633-8090.