Greystone Public House, one of Harrisburg’s newest dining establishments, has been wowing guests for several months now with its sophisticated yet approachable menu, which offers a modern twist on seasonal ingredients. But the restaurant also serves as a reminder of Harrisburg’s place in history.
The original stone building at the site was constructed by Godfrey Fritchey, one of Harrisburg’s earliest settlers. Born in 1755 in Germany, Godfrey traveled with a companion to America in 1783, fully intending to return home. He never did.
Instead, Cupid’s arrow struck, and on July 24, 1787, Godfrey married Dorothy Bucher. In 1789, he purchased 25 acres of land on the Greystone site from Andrew Berryhill, the property’s original owner. By 1798, Godfrey had built the two-story fieldstone structure, designed to resemble his former home in Bavaria, that is now Greystone Public House. The building, which became known in the early community of settlers as the Fritchey Mansion, was home to Godfrey, Dorothy and their 13 children.
In April 1805, the budding American entrepreneurial instinct struck, and Godfrey obtained a liquor license and opened Fritchey Tavern at the site. The tavern was an obvious stop for traffic using the main thoroughfare, now Linglestown Road, which fronted the property. Fritchey operated the tavern until his death in 1821, at the age of 66, when the property was passed on to Dorothy. Nearly two centuries of ownership at various hands followed.
When the building was put on the market in 2015, local chef Jason Viscount and business partner John Frisch knew that the unique history of the location was something special—and an opportunity not to pass by. “I really wanted a building and property with character and history,” says Viscount. “There are not a lot of places like in this the Harrisburg area, and when it came up for sale I knew it was the place.”
In renovating the building over the course of more than a year, Viscount and Frisch opened up the original series of small rooms to create an expansive, modern space but were careful to preserve glimpses into Greystone’s storied history. In the upstairs wine cooler, for example, one can see small preserved areas of writing on the wall, likely scrawled by the Fritcheys’ children. A copy of the original spirits license, dated 1805 and issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor Thomas McKean, hangs proudly in the bar at the tavern.
Greystone remains connected to its past by more than just architectural touches, however. The seasonally changing menu pays homage to local ingredients that could have been grown by the area’s original inhabitants—currently, beets and sweet potatoes—while showcasing the fare of our forefathers, like wild game, and Bavarian dishes including pierogis (with a twenty-first century twist of goat cheese). Have a hearty appetite like our earliest settlers? Dig into prime cuts on the butcher’s menu, where you’ll find 14-oz. pork chops and New York strip steaks, a 16-oz. ribeye and 8-oz. beef tenderloin.
Those with an eye toward romance, like Godfrey and Maria, can nosh on sharable small plates including roasted oysters, cast-iron baked crab dip and yellowfin crostini, but families will also feel welcome at Greystone. (Don’t forget, the fieldhouse was once home to 13 children!) Kid-friendly fare includes smoked chicken wings, burgers, short rib grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy mac ‘n cheese.
As a tavern owner, Godfrey would surely be proud of Greystone’s wine and spirits offerings, which include an impressive 28-page wine list of offerings from around the world, the restaurant’s signature Wine Stack (three wines from a select list served in a stack and designed to be shared), local craft beers on tap and in bottles and signature cocktails like the Greystone Fizz, crafted with Tanqueray No. 10, orange water, blood orange and egg white, and Sicilian Firing Squad, with Solerno blood orange liqueur, mezcal, house-made grenadine, lime juice and Angostura bitters.
Rumors abound that the upstairs is haunted by its former residents, but lovers of a great deal should face their fears and check out Greystone’s happy hour, when select wines are $5, all seasonal cocktails are $4 off and all draft beer is half price. Happy hour runs from 5–6 p.m. and 9–10 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 5–6 p.m.; and 10–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 5–6 p.m. Sunday.
There’s no need to rise with the sun like the earliest inhabitants of Greystone for the most important meal of the day. Sleep in and enjoy a leisurely brunch every Sunday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Selections include traditional buttermilk pancakes, omelets and waffles; modern-day Ahi tuna poke, roasted beet tabbouleh and crispy brussels sprouts; a special kids’ brunch; and of course, bellinis, mimosas, Greystone’s Brunch Punch and more for a good ole-fashioned round of day drinking.
Hours of operation at Greystone Public House are as follows: Monday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–12 a.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. The lunch menu is served from 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m., dinner from 4:30 p.m.–closing and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Find Greystone Public House at 2120 Colonial Rd. in Harrisburg; phone: (717) 829-9952.
- Photos: Casey Martin Photography