Chef and Co-Owner Chad Vigneulle opened Harlem Public in August 2012 with his friends, Lauren and Jay. In 2014, they expanded their operation to bring At the Wallace, and later, The Honey Well in January 2017. These three neighborhood treasures, each with their own flair and character, invite the Harlem community out every weekend for a good drink, incredible food, and a fun time.
We got the chance to get to know Chad and his businesses, and we can’t wait to introduce our members at Common Hamilton to Harlem Public, At the Wallace, and The Honey Well.
What was the inspiration behind Harlem Public, and how did you get into the business?
Our inspiration for Harlem Public was really very simple. Lauren, Jay, and I all lived in the neighborhood for a few years and had to travel pretty far just to grab a solid beer and a burger. We wanted to be able to walk to a neighborhood bar, so we blew every last dime we had and built Harlem Public. Jay and I worked together at a bar in the Bronx and became close. Jay recruited Lauren, who his wife was good friends with in college, and we went to work.
We really wanted to be a bar more than a restaurant, but we quickly realized that the neighborhood really fell in love with our food. It was outperforming beer and alcohol, and we had to really transition into being a full-service restaurant. That’s when At the Wallace became the next plan, simply an effort to build a solid bar and a reliable local hangout spot. Cheap beers, drinks, and greasy food. At the Wallace is still our favorite place to hang out.
The Honey Well came about because we realized that when we went out downtown or traveled to new cities, we somehow always ended up at a cocktail bar. Always. They became our go-to. We knew the neighborhood didn’t have any high-end cocktail bars, so we found a space on the block and again, went to work.
What do you love most about being in Hamilton Heights?
I moved here in 2008 and instantly fell in love with the sense of community and rawness of it all. We’ve got so much going on up here that people don’t really realize unless they’ve lived here. There’s the fantastic parks, restaurants, bars, close access to the Hudson River, and the large apartments. But most of all, it’s the sense of community.
Fill in the blank. Community means _________ at Harlem Public.
Community means meeting your neighbors over a cold beer, some crispy wings, and a good conversation at Harlem Public.
What’s your favorite pairing on the menu right now, and why?
At Harlem Public, I love our Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich. We serve it in a couple of different ways, so it just depends on the mood. That and a nice crisp pilsner hits the spot.
At At the Wallace, it’s all about our cheeseburger. Simple and straight to the point. Might be my favorite item across all three bars, actually. I’ll take that with a Sixpoint Crisp.
Finally, The Honey Well makes a damn good Old Fashioned, so I’d recommend that with some deviled eggs. We top them with thick cut pork belly.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened at Harlem Public?
The funniest thing that’s ever happened at Harlem Public would probably be our kitchen venting system going down 3 months after we opened. It was during Hurricane Sandy. I was in the kitchen, and there was a loud slam above my head. Dust came down through the ceiling, and it just shut down. We ran up to the roof and saw that it had completely fallen on top of the kitchen.
Funny now, but not too funny then! That week, we ended up having one of our busiest weeks ever. It still ranks high up there. The neighborhood really came out that week as everything else was shut down. We decided to stay open but close down the kitchen. We completely ran out of beer that week!
How do you hope people use your space?
I hope people view and use our space as their “Cheers bar.” It’s cliche, but that has always been our goal. The majority of our staff have been with us for years, and 90 percent of them live in the Harlem and Washington Heights area, which really helps to create that vibe.
Our beautiful coliving home, Common Hamilton, is only a 5-minute walk away from these fantastic bars. Join the Hamilton Heights community, and enjoy a fully furnished private bedroom, incredible amenities, and convenient living in Upper Manhattan. Take a free tour today.