Harry MacArthur, Harry and the Natives

by IRWIN H. SPIVAK, Hobe Sound Reflections, March 2008

Harry at the bar

Harry MacArthur has an answer for just about everything. Ask him if it snows here in Florida. “Just melted yesterday.” Or, “Do the animals here bite? His answer is “generally” or Do you have hurricanes here? Harry answers Order one. The cooks will whip up a Hugo for you.” Who is Hugo? Harry answers, “haven’t seen him since his ass whuppin, and my favorite “Where are the restrooms?” Harry’s answer is “Out back. Watch out for the gators.”

I guess you get the idea. Harry and Natives serves good food along with Harry’s personal relationship with customers who keep coming back for more. Harry MacArthur was born practically on this spot in 1958. By age 3, he was toddling around the restaurant trying to be helpful. The restaurant has been in Hobe Sound for 55 years and was begun by Harry’s mom and dad. It was built in 1941 and purchased in 1952. Originally, it was a restaurant, a motel and gas station. Over the years, they added a bus station, western union office, a notary public and a real estate brokerage. Harry’s mom, Pauline, is 92 and still works six days a week at the cash register and also handles the books.

Miss Pauline originally gave Harry the job of fetching water to customers. Harry would H11 the glasses, turn toward a table, stop. take a sip from each glass so the water wouldn’t spill and then serve it. Some patrons remember this as cute but it did not bode well for Harry’s future as a waiter. He soon became kitchen help. When Harry left Hobe Sound in 1976, he uttered that now famous Gen. MacArthur quote, “I shall return.” Harry’s kitchen affairs took him from Switzerland to Hawaii. He has worked for Hyatt, Hilton and Sheraton. In 1989, he treated his fellow natives to his unforgettable grin and said, “I have returned.”

“Mom is the reason we are still in business, She holds it together. Often customers will come and ask her to sing. She has a beautiful voice and everybody enjoys listening to her and making requests. Many of our customers are friends I’ve known all my life. I was bom in Stewart. After school, I went to Hawaii to surf and also worked for Hyatt Hotel as a chef. I surfed for seven years and loved it. There was just one problem…I had no talent, so it was time to hang up my board.” Harry moved to California and opened a Sheraton Grand Hotel as executive sous chef. Two years later, he moved to Switzerland where he also worked as a chef. One year later, he moved back to Hobe Sound where he worked for Sheraton. After his dad passed away, he realized it was time to help his mother run the family business.

Harry’s responsibilities include coming in at 4 a.m. and setting up the tables, putting on the bacon and set up the kitchen. They employ 17 people and are open for lunch and dinner six days a week. “We serve about 400 to 500 people a week in season and specialize in American cuisine. We sell lots of burgers and have been buying meat from Bush Brothers in West Palm Beach since 1952 when my dad began the relationship. Our generations just keep rolling along together. Our gift shop is great, too.”

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