Meet Kevin Hart and Tim Judge: Oreland natives, life partners & co-owners of The Hart of Catering & Cafe

Kevin Hart and Timothy Judge are Oreland natives, Springfield High School ’99 and ’00 graduates, life partners and co-owners of The Hart of Catering and its sister cafe in Philadelphia.

The full-service culinary venture celebrated its first birthday in late November, but the owners say the road to get there has had its share of rough patches. Kevin and Tim are recovering addicts who spent years in and out of halfway and recovery homes—and the occasional jail cell.

And they’ve each since found ways to get and stay clean. Tim has been sober for 12 years, and Kevin will celebrate his seventh year on the wagon this week.

Acquaintances during their Springfield days, they started dating after meeting through shiftwork at Jonathan’s American Grille in Jenkintown. Fast-forward 18 years and they’re still working together: Tim started full-time with The Hart of Catering in June, and they manage two recovery homes in Philadelphia, which they say are fundamentally different than most.

“It’s been rewarding. We had always wanted to run recovery homes a little differently since those places tend to be profit-oriented. That was a dream of ours during those tough periods,” Hart said. “Our homes are a safe place. People have their own bedrooms with plenty of space. We try to provide them with jobs. Roughly one-third to one-half of those in the home actually work for us at The Hart of Catering.

It’s a pretty neat situation to have people all working towards the same goal,” he said.

Tim was the general manager at La Provence in Ambler for eight years. He left to join Kevin at The Hart of Catering, which has been steadily expanding its presence in greater Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the business in April, and they’ve added two venues in Huntingdon Valley to their client list: Beat Street and Industry Event Space.

“They’re mostly for bar mitzvahs and weddings, but we have all kinds of things there. Baby showers, birthday parties, you name it,” Kevin said. “The Hart of Catering does a lot of corporate catering and private events.”

On Saturday, for example, they catered a holiday party with about 400 on the guest list and 50 on staff.

The Hart of Catering Cafe, located at 2101 Sansom Street, is the venture’s extra fold.

Kevin is also in the process of writing a book to tell his and Tim’s story.

“The working title is ‘It’s Bigger Than Food’,” he said. “Drug addiction and alcoholism were a huge part of my life and I didn’t think that would ever change. There were some really bad times, including the first six years of our relationship. We experienced homelessness and we went to jail a couple of times. It finally stuck just before I started losing hope. The story now is about hope. If I can do it, anyone can.

“It’s also about connection and your social network, the good that can come when you start making the right decisions,” Hart said. “I’m a living example of that and I know people are out there in the same condition, and I want to get my message out.

“I get goosebumps when I think about everything we’re doing. It’s amazing. I’m living a dream that I never thought would have been possible,” he said.

For more on The Hart of Catering and Cafe, you can visit their Facebook page and website.

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Photos: Kevin Hart