To start, this article announcing the closure of Harry's Hot Sandwiches is titled "Harry's Hot Sandwiches Closes Location in Beacon Theater," as opposed to just saying "closes," and leaving it at that. This article title leaves open the possibility/prediction: This isn't the end of Harry's Hot Sandwiches. It just may be the end of Harry's Hot Sandwiches in this location. Because here's the thing: Running a small business isn't business as usual. There is no such thing as business as usual for small business owners. There's always a story behind it.
When a business in Beacon announces that it is closing, usually something different happens; best-case scenario is the owner is presented with a possible solution, and more possibilities reveal themselves for the business to stay open. Like when the boutique Lauren and Riley announced that they were closing, only to re-announce that they changed their minds and would stay open with a move to the other end of town. (PS: Lauren and Riley are having a big Moving Sale, so run - don't walk - to help them clear out inventory in advance of their big move!)
So let's back it up for a moment to explore Harry's Hot Sandwiches, now that he has announced on Instagram that he is closing. He cited a rent increase as the reason for closing, which sparked a social media outrage against landlords and rent in Beacon in general.
Who is Harry?
Harrison Manning opened Harry's Hot Sandwiches after working in many eateries in Beacon. Many knew him from his days working the coffee counter at Bank Square. Then they delighted to see him serving up delicious dishes from The Hop. (The Hop has since closed due to its own inner workings.) One of Harrison's fellow workers from The Hop, John-Anthony Gargiulo, opened Hudson Valley Brewery down behind 1 East Main, and some familiar faces can be seen behind the bar there.
When Harrison opened Harry's Hot Sandwiches in The Beacon Theater in 2015, it was during the period when his dad, Patrick Manning, a partner in 4th Wall Theatrical Productions, had taken over the theater in 2011 in order to revive it as a working theater after it had been closed for 50 years. Before Harrison opened his sandwich shop, the space had been home to a coffee shop, and then to an ice cream parlor from the same people who run the Beacon Creamery on the west end of town (across from Bank Square). Both the ice cream parlor and coffee shop were short-lived and closed quickly.
The planned theater renovation did not come to be, and by 2015, the property was purchased by a construction company run by the McAlpine family, who had done the construction on that theater after renovating and running The Roundhouse. According to an article by Brian PJ Cronin in the Highlands Current, the McAlpines donated their work to the restoration: "For the next few years, McAlpine Construction donated time, materials and work in order to help restore the theater’s facade and lobby, and build out two commercial spaces on either side of the lobby."
Those commercial spaces became Harry's Hot Sandwiches and the alteration shop, By A Thin Thread. Brendan McAlpine became the new owner in 2015, and inherited Harry's Hot Sandwiches as a tenant. Brendan continued the major renovation of the Beacon Theater, announcing the availability of residential apartments and some office space, as well as a movie theater (click here for an inside look at the plans for that movie theater).
The Announcement - The Rent
Rent is a delicate subject. It can make or break a business from staying in a location. It can be the basis for the pricing a business owner gives their customers. A rent increase can be the catalyst for the business owner to close, or to move down to a neighboring storefront. Or, the business can pivot to accommodate the rent increase and retain customers. Sometimes, the landlord can be very present, and sometimes the landlord can live out of town and no one can reach them should a storefront be flooded from an overflowing bathtub in the apartment upstairs. (Click on those links to read - yes, real - examples.)
In Harry's case, his landlord is quite present in Beacon. We reached out to Brendan for comment in response to the rent increase mentioned in Harry's closure announcement. Here is what he said:
"Harry's rent has been held so low over the years, that even doubling it keeps it several hundred dollars a month below market. We always worked together on good terms during his lease, and I was disappointed he was leaving. I inherited him as a tenant, but worked with Harry to keep his business moving forward the last couple of years.
"Without going into detail, necessary upgrades needed to be made to his space for life safety and health code reasons. While I told him that I would need to start getting closer to market rent and need the upgrades made, I told him we would work toward it over 6 months to a year to allow him to ease into it. With the movie theater opening soon in this building, he should have no shortage of business. We offered to rent him just the kitchen as a vendor for the theater as another possibility, which would make his rent even lower than he currently pays, but he was not interested. I will miss Harry and genuinely wish him well."
Surely the Sammies Will Still Be Available Some How, Some Way
When Harry's Hot Sandwiches opened, it was an instant hit, and currently has nearly five-star ratings everywhere. The eatery was a media darling, loved by The Valley Table, Visit Vortex, and adored by professional photographers like Meredith Heuer. Our prediction is that we haven't tasted the last sandwich from Harrison Manning. He's too creative to sit still. Maybe you'll see him in a new location in Beacon. Maybe you'll see him in Newburgh. We just don't know yet... Hopefully he will still have the bike delivery option!