Waco community helps Harvest on 25th reopen after fire

A health food restaurant reopens its doors after nearly four months of closure. Photo by Brittany Tankersley.

By Tori Templet | Staff Writer

Harvest on 25th reopened in its original location Sept. 2, after having to close down due to a fire in April.

Harvest originally opened its doors in 2018 and quickly grew as a small business.

Facing COVID-19 throughout 2020 was a challenge, but Harvest was able to recover in 2021. The restaurant had its highest revenue months during March and April, until the building caught fire on April 23.

Toby Tull, co-owner of Harvest, said the minute he looked at the damage, it was devastating knowing it was going to take a lot to get the building back to how it used to be.

Luckily enough, Tull’s friend was building a food commissary just down the road and allowed Tull to use the space while the restoration and reconstruction were being done to the original location, he explained.

As Harvest was temporarily located at the food commissary, many people within the Waco community offered to help bring back the original location.

“Everyone that was local knew about Harvest and knew what was at stake,” Tull said. “Harvest was in a very vulnerable position, and it needed to get back open. Our community wanted it back open and it was an extremely large amount of work.”

Tull said the amount of cooperation and collaboration was incredible to see.

“Before the fire, it felt like Harvest was ours,” Tull said. “Now, it definitely feels like it belongs to the community just because so many people played a part in getting us back open.”

The process of getting Harvest back up and running in its original location took four months. Tull said while the team had the opportunity to reset, they used that time to make a few changes to the space operationally but didn’t want to lose sight of why they started Harvest.

“The biggest thing we wanted to make sure we were bringing back was that commitment to high quality, delicious food and that has not changed,” Tull said. “A huge part of what we wanted to do with Harvest is that we wanted to create great food but also create a space where people could enjoy that food.”

Austin senior Rachel Lychner is a long-time Harvest attendee and was devastated when she heard about the fire, but she was glad the team could come back from it.

“I went to Harvest at least once a week,” Lychner said. “It was my favorite place to go in Waco. When they posted about the fire, I was in shock. After the year they had with COVID-19 and then with the fire, it was really sad that one of my favorite Waco places might have been gone forever, but seeing the community come together was really reassuring.”

Lychner said she loves Harvest because when she’s there, she feels like she is completely off-campus and in a different part of Waco.

“They care a lot about their food, but they also care about giving people a great place to gather,” Lychner said. “They have such a community that surrounds them, and it’s really cool to see something that has grown just out of a restaurant. It’s so much more than that once you go and experience it all.”