Owner of Harpo's downtown bar sells after 39 years

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 7:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After 39 years, an original owner of Harpo’s, Dennis Harper, has sold his popular downtown restaurant.  

Chuck Naylor and Kevin Fitzpatrick, both MU alumni, bought the Columbia eatery from Harper on March 2.

Harper said he believes they will continue running the restaurant in true Harpo’s style. “It has steamrolled on,” he said. “Why slow it down?”

Bar manager Stephen Savage credits Harper with the success of Harpo’s. “He has owned, operated and created one of the greatest bars of all time." But he also said he thinks the new ownership will bring a revival to Harpo’s, like ringing in a new era.

Harper started Harpo’s in 1971 after graduating from MU. He now owns restaurants in Kansas City and St. Louis, so he decided to sell the Columbia restaurant, saying he “had a good run.”

He has been a fixture of the Columbia hospitality and bar scene, according to Richard Walls, president of the Columbia/Mid-Missouri Restaurant Association, who said Harper has “made an impact on this town.”

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