Hospitality At Its Finest

The standard definition of hospitality is as follows: the business of providing food, drink, and accommodation for customers of restaurants, bars, etc. or guests at hotels; the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. However, Harwood Hospitality is anything but standard. The company’s mission revolves around delivering an experience that allows guests and employees to escape the ordinary. Through a growing collection of concepts in the Harwood District of Dallas, Harwood Hospitality is setting the standard for hospitality through its innovative concepts and impactful design. Harwood Hospitality looks to deliver the highest level of luxury and service throughout all of its concepts.

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Gabriel Barbier-Mueller is the founder and chairman of Harwood International and developer of the 19-city-block Harwood District in Dallas, Texas. He was undoubtedly a visionary and had a very clear picture in his mind of what his idea would look like when brought to life. So, it makes sense that he would entrust his business and life passion to his sons, Alexis and Oliver Barbier-Mueller. Together, they lead as co-presidents of their family’s sizable and continuously expanding company. 

For years, the only eatery in the Harwood District was Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens. Developed in 1997, it served as an amenity for the growing tenant base. Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, a restoration of a historic schoolhouse, was built thirteen years later. Not long after, Mercat Bistro opened in 2013 on the ground floor of Saint Ann Court, serving as the ideal spot for tenants to get European-style coffee as well as breakfast and lunch fare.

This was just the start of the Harwood District’s evolution from an office park to a city within a city. Two residential towers, the 31-story Azure and the 33-story Bleu Ciel, played a significant role in this shift. Throughout the entire transformation, the Harwood Hospitality team sought feedback from tenants and residents to better meet their desire for walkability, green space, and safety. Remaining open to feedback and seeking opportunity for improvement has allowed the Harwood District to become the success story it is today. 


Harwood Hospitality’s hospitality group is one of four verticals within the overarching Harwood International company. With over 1,000 staff-members, Chief Operations Officer of Harwood’s hospitality division, Matt Minichino, is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the company’s reputation for delivering the extraordinary stays intact. 

With over 20+ years of experience extending across diverse facets of the industry including food and beverage development, nightlife, entertainment and operations, Minichino’s professional expertise and interests aligned with the goals and direction in which the company wanted to take the hospitality division. As the COO, Minichino oversees the comprehensive spectrum of the company’s business operations, including the recently launched Hotel Swexan along with 15+ distinct restaurant concepts which collectively generate an annual revenue of over $50 million. It’s safe to say that Minichino has a lot of responsibility but, for him, the sense of fulfillment from his work makes it all worthwhile. The brand’s 15+ unique brands and diverse range of concepts attracts over 1 million visitors per year seeking to discover what sets Harwood Hospitality above the rest.

“I am most proud of being able to be a part of the revenue growth and profitability while simultaneously delivering an exceptional level of service that leads to unforgettable experiences for our guests,” said Minichino.

Going beyond the tactile, Harwood’s hospitality division has found a way to create an emotional connection with their guests that surpasses great food or service. Inviting guests to feel as though they have been transported to different parts of the world without leaving the comforts of their own city, the Harwood District has a way of leaving a lasting impression on anyone who steps foot inside one of its restaurants or hotels. This is due in large part to the fact that all of Harwood Hospitality’s concepts draw inspiration from the Barbier-Mueller family’s extensive international experiences and travel. The venue designs are expertly curated and developed in-house, with all venues showcasing unique, stunning styles that feel authentic to the guests. 

With all the growth Harwood Hospitality has had since inception, the company has managed to maintain an intimate feeling among guests, residents and employees. This is because, in spite of the restaurant and hotel concepts differing in their culinary offerings and decor, they are united by an overarching commitment to maintaining the essence of the Harwood Hospitality brand. 

“The company’s ethos is deeply influenced by the Barbier-Mueller Swiss-Texan family heritage, melding the warmth of Texan charm with the refined hospitality of Switzerland, known as Swexan Hospitality,” said Minichino. “Attention to detail is the hallmark of our way of thinking, recognizing that often the smallest things make the largest impact.” 

Approaching food and service as an art form requiring grace, finesse, and sophistication, the Harwood hospitality division ensures efficiency never becomes haste. And, at the same time, quality should never suffer for the sake of convenience. Through a thoughtful presentation of the people and the places, Harwood Hospitality shows respect for every aspect of its existence. From ingredients and interiors to guests and colleagues — everything and everyone is treated with respect and thoughtful consideration.


Harwood International’s plan has always been a generational one. The company has every intention of being a leader in the restaurant and hospitality business for decades to come. There are many benefits that come with being a long-standing, family-owned and operated business. This includes the security and growth potential that exists for Harwood Hospitality employees. In fact, it’s not unusual for chefs, servers, and even corporate workers to pursue their interests and shift to new roles and brands within the company. This has helped give Harwood an edge in retaining and attracting employees, including top chefs. The Dallas culinary market is extremely competitive and Harwood has managed to get a significant number of chefs from New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and California. It has allowed the Harwood hospitality division to elevate its standards, aligning with the sophisticated tastes and preferences of the Dallas demographic. 

“A part of our mission has always been to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with our associates,” said Minichino. “This involves doing things differently by implementing creativity, passion, and style in a way that instills a deep sense of loyalty among all our employees.”

Having a vast number of venues within one neighborhood allows the company to take advantage of economies of scale. As a result, Harwood Hospitality Group has created a city within a city through the Harwood District — a place to live, work and play in a better way. Far beyond the conventional ‘restaurant row’, it has evolved into a genuine entertainment district, where each distinct concept features its own bespoke programming and offers something for everyone and this is only just the beginning.

This summer Harwood Hospitality opened its first hotel property, Hotel Swexan, which celebrates the confluence of Texan charm and international European flair. It is a nod to Harwood International’s multi-generational Swiss-Texan heritage. The 22-story tower is designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and features a luxe lobby with two dining experiences: Isabelle’s, an all-day high tea and martini bar, and Babou’s, a dimly lit two-story library cocktail bar with a hidden underground lounge. The hotel also includes impressive amenities which include a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool. The building design houses 12,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces with two grand ballrooms and three private meeting rooms.

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In 2024, Harwood Hospitality will continue to expand, opening two new restaurant concepts in Harwood’s newest office building, Harwood 14, with plans to take the Harwood concepts on the road and expand outside of Texas — both within the U.S. and internationally. A firm believer in never resting on one’s laurels, the company is always looking for innovative ways to expand their positive impact on the Dallas community and beyond. It goes far past building a place, it’s about laying the foundation for a lasting legacy.

To learn more about the Harwood Hospitality Group and its unique portfolio of restaurants, hotels, offerings and experiences, visit the company site at