A Caddo couple is brewing up plans for two vacant and historical buildings on Buffalo Street.
Drew and Kayla Harbin recently purchased the Ben Siegel and Marsh Grocery buildings in Caddo and are planning to open a microbrewery and restaurant to be named Harbinger Beer Company.
The restaurant will have pub-style food and they are considering brick-oven pizza and bison burgers along with craft-brewed beer. “A bison burger on Buffalo Street,” Drew said.
Drew is an avid home brewer, a craft he says has turned into a passion.
“I’ve been a home brewer coming on probably six or seven years now and it’s just become a passion, a hobby turned passion and we wanted to get into the commercial side of things, and we just felt like downtown Caddo is a perfect place to make that happen,” Drew said. “We just want to bring some life back to Caddo and it seems to be a pretty booming little place right now. There are some more businesses coming in and we also want to support the downtown area by working with other businesses to grow the community.”
Drew said they are still in the demolition phase of the buildings.
“We’re trying to restore these buildings back to their former glory and reveal some of the old ceiling tiles, and save a lot of the things we’re pulling out,” he said. “We’ve got the shop back at home filled with all kinds of goodies to go back in when we’re actually done and ready to begin construction.
There will be a brewery and tap room on the Ben Siegel side and on the grocery side, they will have a commercial kitchen and restaurant.
The Harbins plan to open the business sometime in 2019.
These historic Caddo buildings have a long history.
Most current residents remember the Bass building as Marsh’s Grocery, operated by Jerry Marsh, but its shelves offered groceries to many earlier generations of Caddo citizens. J. K. Bass was in the grocery business in 1899, but when he moved away for a short time his sons Amos, Ernest, and Henry took over the store. Henry was only sixteen, but rode horseback up and down the streets every morning taking grocery orders. An employee delivered the groceries in a hack during the afternoon. In 1942 the store was still making deliveries, but had to make some specific restrictions “Conforming to war needs.”
The Bass Brothers were involved in several local businesses and organizations. For a while, Amos managed the Opera House where Henry was an usher. Later Henry served as chairman of the school board, chairman of the Methodist Board of Stewards, and vice president and director of the First State Bank of Caddo. The brothers sold their grocery business to Paul Hancock in 1920 and turned their attention to other concerns, including cotton, oil, and banking. They were also active in numerous social events. Amos built a fabulous home, later purchased by Henry when Amos moved to Durant, and it was the setting for many Caddo parties. Ernest also moved to Durant, but Henry remained in business in Caddo until 1966. After that, he moved to Sherman where he was treated for health problems. In 1972 Henry was the only living charter member of the Lion’s Club. He died in 1975. His wife, Ruby (Potts), a talented painter, was also active in Caddo and beyond. She helped establish Grayson County’s “Frontier Village” at Loy Lake, where the home of Mr. Bass’s grandmother now delights tourists.
The Siegel building was home to a series of “general” stores, selling almost anything and everything to the buying public. Ben began his merchandising career with a pack on his back, but later moved into a 10 x 12 wooden building in Caddo. His first store was called “The Famous,” a title he finally abandoned in 1900 because nearly everyone in the county knew his name. He was an ambitious businessman and a master of advertising. His slogans were always about saving money and honest trading: “I stand to help the farmers and will sacrifice $10,000 worth of goods; fresh, reliable staple dry goods, actually at cost. This is the honest fact, as I am going to do what I say.” As Ben’s business increased, he left his wooden building for first one and then a series of brick buildings and partnerships. His modest name sign on the brick building purchased by the Harbins is only a hint of his influence on the local community. He was an intelligent man who learned several languages, including Choctaw, in order to communicate more effectively with his customers. He was respected for his faith and was a friend and mentor to other Jewish businessmen. In 1922 he left Caddo and in 1925, he and his son opened a business in downtown Durant that thrived for many years. His building, now Elements Art Center, still bears his name in the tiled entry. Mr. Siegel, still actively in business, died in 1960.
Both of the buildings were locations for many businesses over the years, but their earliest owners set a pattern for success and Caddo wishes the same for the Harbins.
For updates on the brewery, visit harbingerbeer.com and also see their Facebook page.
Editor’s note: Interview of the Harbins was by Democrat Editor Matt Swearengin and Caddo historian Mary E. Maurer provided historical background on the buildings.
Contact Matt Swearengin at 634-2160 or email@example.com.