Michael Harrison’s resume includes many years in the volatile restaurant industry. That was a while ago; more recently, he worked in the behavioral health industry. Now that he’s retired, he’s decided to get back into the food business—Harrison and his wife Colleen took over Michael’s on Main on Dec. 19. They have big plans; for one, they want to make it more of a music venue than it already is. As for the menu? Harrison sat down with us to tell us their plans.
What changes have you made in your first month?
We eliminated a few items, and brought some things in like short ribs, more fish, crab cakes and barbecue prawns. Now that it’s slowed down, we are going to focus on creating a menu that is not only surprising, but can be executed in volume.
What’s your vision for the restaurant?
We are a multicultural society. We want to take all these different cultures and create an American fusion. We have pasta. We have fish tacos. We have poke. We have Korean barbecue. We have this extensive bar menu with crab cakes, barbecue prawns and kobe burgers, fried wontons. I refer to it as “Americana” because we’re pretty much a melting pot. Our executive chef trained at Cordon Bleu. He’s really up on sauces and putting things together really beautifully. We have this other chef named Robert who grew up in Jamaica. We are exploring doing a Jamaican barbecue one night a week, perhaps add some of those items as daily specials: oxtails, jerk chicken, those kinds of items. There were two restaurants [previously] in this location; one was called the Courtyard, one was called Aragona’s Italian. I brought back two items from each of those menus, just in tribute. We have the Courtyard’s famous fettuccine alfredo. We also added Aragona’s Italian flag ravioli. It had red sauce on top, alfredo in the middle and pesto on the bottom. The plate looks like the Italian flag with the raviolis on it.
Is it true you are hoping to utilize the space for fundraising events?
I’m very community-minded. I’m on the board of directors of the Santa Cruz Symphony. I’m also on the board of directors for the Rotary Club in Santa Cruz. We’re involved in a lot of fundraising activities, just social betterment. This is a location that is central. It’s in mid county. It gives us the opportunity to have our friends eat dinner here, have directors meetings here, and fundraising events for the community. We are very excited to have this property. It seats 200-300 when you use the entire facility. We have a beautiful patio that’s out on the creek, a lovely setting.
2591 S Main St., Soquel, 479-9777.