From Haus to Home – Revitalizing Historic Harrington

by Dallas Jade Graves

Dallas Jade Graves

The remarkable development of Harrington, Washington in recent years has been nothing short of exhilarating for local business owners in this quaint, historic town. Key players in this thrilling revitalization are Chris and Janice Meats, new owners and operators at Harrington Haus, a family restaurant that has become a cherished gathering place for locals and travelers alike.

Since taking the reins in mid-October of last year, Chris and Janice have described their journey so far as both astounding and exciting. “We didn’t really know what we were getting into,” Janice laughed. “We’ve been busy beyond what we ever expected.” Upon making the decision to open their doors 7 days a week, as well as extend their hours, traffic through Harrington Haus has boomed.

Janice grew up in Odessa, a nearby town also in Lincoln County, but ended up working and residing in Spokane for a couple of decades. After some life changes, she found herself yearning for smaller-town living, answering a call to return to her roots. This is how she found herself in Harrington, where she met her husband, Chris. They dove into renovating a cozy, 1901 farmhouse together, even tying the knot in its still-under-construction living room. Buying Harrington Haus wasn’t a snap decision; they pondered it for several months, but ultimately, “It absolutely felt right.”

harrington haus

Chris and Janice Meats, new owners and operators at Harrington Haus, photo by Val Mohney

Despite the whirlwind of activity that surrounds them, Chris and Janice make it a priority to carve out precious time together amidst their busy schedules, ensuring their relationship remains fundamental to this shared journey. While Chris handles his full-time, remote job during the day, he’s also on deck at Harrington Haus in the evenings. Recognizing the importance of a healthy balance, they are actively looking to hire extra help to free up more time to share together – an absolute must in the hustle of running a successful joint like this.

Navigating the day-to-day operations of Harrington Haus, Chris and Janice have overcome their hurdles with tenacity. From managing repairs to addressing staffing and inventory fluctuations, they’ve embraced each challenge head-on. Particularly rewarding has been the cultivation of strong relationships with suppliers, who now understand and accommodate their unique needs, ensuring smooth operations. Tackling this learning curve has allowed them to continue to strengthen Harrington Haus’s role as a beloved community hub.

Even after four months of ownership, Chris and Janice are ecstatic to frequently see new faces come in, at least weekly, from all over the Inland Empire. They emphasize that the sense of community that permeates Harrington Haus actually isn’t confined to the city limits itself, but reaches outward and encompasses every corner of Lincoln County. Now-regular patrons from neighboring towns make the journey for their weekly date nights and other rituals, speaking volumes about the restaurant’s widespread appeal and the strong bonds it has forged with its patrons across the entire county…and beyond. “They’ve heard [of us] by word-of-mouth,” Janice explains. “That’s what we love hearing.”

Understanding that Harrington Haus had its roots as a tavern, Chris and Janice were determined to transform it into a family-oriented destination that embraced everyone who walked through its doors. From the moment they took over, they implemented changes to reflect this vision, such as adding complimentary table video games to keep kids entertained while families enjoyed their meals. They even went a step further by installing a baby changing station in the restroom, recognizing that more parents were coming through and they “hated to watch moms have to go outside to change their babies.” Their commitment to creating an atmosphere where “families can sit down together” has endeared them to the local community.

At Harrington Haus, community involvement is part of Chris and Janice’s everyday routine, turning the eatery into a catalyst for the growth of the community. They’re always in the loop with what’s happening in their town as well as the surrounding areas, staying connected with the Harrington Chamber and Harrington School District to make sure they’re prepared for whatever comes their way. Whether it’s offering specials for events like Super Bowl watch parties or local basketball tournaments, or holding events for local families and their celebrations, Chris and Janice are committed to being active participants in the community they serve. But they don’t stop there. They also pitch in for initiatives like the annual car show, Christmas programs for families in need, and benefit auctions for other schools in Lincoln County. Their consistent sponsorship is all part of their mission to make a positive influence in the lives of those around them and to continue to build a stronger, more connected community, as well as further enhancing the vision of reviving historic downtown Harrington.

Chris and Janice Meats have seamlessly integrated into the fabric of Harrington’s community with their ownership of Harrington Haus. Their journey from urban to rural living embodies resilience and adaptability, evident in their dedication to transforming the space into a beloved family spot. Through their commitment to inclusivity and community involvement, they’ve not only helped to rejuvenate historic downtown Harrington, but also fostered stronger connections among its residents. As they continue to adapt in their new chapter of entrepreneurship, their impact on Harrington’s comeback promises a bright future for the charming town.

Harrington Haus is open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
14 S. 3rd St.
Harrington, WA 99134

Dallas Jade Graves lives in the Silver Valley of Northern Idaho. She is an investigative student of the past, philosophy, and psychology. You can often find her exploring historic sites in the PNW.