The Main Line has a new restaurant doyenne: Dana Farrell. With Glen Mills’ Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, Villanova’s Avenue Kitchen, and a third in the works, Farrell is one of the few local women who own multiple successful restaurants.
This wasn’t the route Farrell believed her life would take. Graduating from Penn State University with a degree in labor studies, she’d planned on law school. Instead, she got married and followed her husband’s career path into the restaurant world. Together, they opened the Classic Diner in Malvern, turning it into a local favorite. Thirteen years and two kids later, Farrell was divorced, disassociated from the restaurant, and unsure of her next steps. “My kids were then 10 and 6, and I wanted to continue to be a very active mom, but I also wanted
to work,” she says.
Farrell opened Harvest not far from her Glen Mills home in 2010, putting qualified people in place so she had flexibility with her schedule. She then spent over a year strategizing before opening Avenue Kitchen in 2013. “Everyone tried to talk me out of Avenue because other restaurants had failed in that space,” she says. “But Classic Diner had the same bad history, and I helped turn that around.”
And she brought in family to help: Avenue’s executive chef is Farrell’s brother, Gregory Smith. He has his own children, and together, everyone makes it all work for their families. “I try to be at every game and at every play for my kids,” Farrell says. “That means accepting that I can’t do other things that I used to do—like cooking every night. But I do have an advantage: We can always go to my restaurant for dinner.”