Opening June 1 in downtown Harlan, The Portal, a pizza bar, has put a unique spin on the classic neighborhood pizza eatery.
The two-story venue, previously BB&T and Harlan National banks, has been completely renovated and transformed into a casual family oriented gathering spot. The concept behind The Portal is simple and winning — great American/Italian cuisine, with an emphasis on quality and value and a place where local history is visible at every turn.
Located at 101 North Main Street in Harlan, the hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.
A “Portal Preview” will be held on May 29 and a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration on June 1.
The menu at The Portal features wood-fired pizza, which gives the pizza a unique and different taste.
“The wood-fired oven gets as hot as 700 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit,” said owner and operator Greg Drury. “The unique taste is different from any other around here. I traveled from Fort Myers, Fla., to Baltimore, Md., visiting over 100 pizzerias checking out different things to use here. We want this place to be a signature Harlan County restaurant, one that will help the tourism market, adding another destination.”
Drury said customers will see their menu grow. He hopes to add pasta entrees in the near future.
“We really want to keep things fresh and regular,” said Drury. “We’ll change out the menu after we see what the customers like and want.”
The two-level restaurant brings a unique neighborhood atmosphere in both Portal 1 and Portal 2.
“We have a Harlan County theme because the county has such a rich history. We wanted to highlight some of those areas especially for tourism,” said Drury. “We feel this will be a really great way to showcase Harlan County in a positive light.”
Old Harlan County photographs line the walls, as well as old editions of the Harlan Daily Enterprise are glazed on tables, giving guests something to read as they await their meal. Coal memorabilia is located throughout the restaurant, giving you the feel of reliving Harlan County history.
Classic country music will be played throughout the restaurant. Every night before closing “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” will be played.
The menu includes appetizers such as boneless wings, jalapeno poppers, garlic knots and more. Soups and salads include Mediterranean salad, cheesy potato soup and much more. Also you may chose a delicious sandwich, some of which include Italian deluxe, Philly cheesesteak or the Tuscan chicken sub.
The kids’ menu includes chicken bites and fries, mac and cheese, monster meatball and mozzarella sticks or kids pizza. You can finish your meal with a tasty dessert, such as peanut butter pie, cheesecake, or a dessert of the week.
“Upstairs in the Portal 2 area of the restaurant, it will be more casual, where there are flat screen TVs to watch the game or races,” said Drury. “We have a boardroom perfect for parties of 12-15 people or meetings. We hope to add a variety of video games in the future. We have a small bar with a unique cocktail menu where everything is named for things in Harlan County.”
Drury said they are also naming items on the menu for things in Harlan County, such as a meat lovers pizza named the Manalapan Meat Lovers, Black Mountain Buffalo Chicken and Maggie’s Mator and Cheese.
A former Harlan County Probation and Parole officer, Drury said he is “all about being local and Kentucky oriented.”
“I have a gentleman right here in Harlan who will grow our produce locally,” said Drury. “So, seasonally you’ll have locally grown items on the menu. Our supplier is also Kentucky based. Any type of work we have done in the renovation, we have tried to go locally to support the Harlan County economy. We’re also providing 25 jobs to residents living in the area. “
Drury and his wife, Courtney, who is a teacher at Harlan Elementary School, reside in Harlan and have two daughters, Kate and Madelyn.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org