Published DateLACONIA — Dave Henrick and his partner Yvette Imhof wanted to leave Peabody, Mass. and relocate to the Lakes Region, where they had been seasonal visitors for decades. They couldn't do it, though, without bringing some of their favorite North Shore flavors with them.
Lakeside Famous Roast Beef, located at 1091 Union Avenue, opened a year ago. Henrick and Imhof have found that there's plenty of love in Laconia for North Shore favorites.
"I've been coming to this area for over 40 years, this is always a place I wanted to be," said Henrick. A retired insurance industry executive, Henrick has traveled the world and indulged his love of good food wherever he's gone. Transitioning from that career to one of a restaurateur, however, it was the food he was most familiar with that he chose to feature at his first restaurant. "Everybody goes back to their roots," he said.
The menu at Lakeside features pizza and calzones, salads, sandwiches and subs, and pasta dishes. There's little on the menu that's unique among other eateries on Union Ave., especially in the vicinity of Lakeside. Yet Lakeside has been able to set itself apart, said Henrick. "It's the same type of food but it's prepared differently."
At Lakeside, the marinara sauce is made in-house. So is the Alfredo sauce, roast beef and chicken fingers. Steak tips are marinated in-house. Onion rings are cut, breaded and fried under Henrick's or Imhof's watch. All their seafood is fresh, not frozen. They make their own clam chowder, which became a customer favorite this winter.
All of those products, and others that Lakeside staff make in-house, could be more easily purchased prepared and frozen. For Henrick, though, "it makes a difference" to prepare the items to meet his and Imhof's standards. Patrons seem to have agreed, as business at Lakeside has continued to grow, even through the winter.
When planning the restaurant, Henrick said his strategy was to serve the local, year-round residents instead of trying to attract the business of here-today gone-tomorrow vacationers. Critical to that strategy was to set prices at levels that locals could afford several times a week. Indeed, there are no sandwiches or subs that cost more than $8, there are even a couple that cost less than $5.
Whether it's insurance or subs, Henrick said, success in business can be found by following three principles: "You have to have a good product, reasonably priced, and you have to make a connection with the customers."
Henrick's serious about that last one, too. He prides himself on being present at the business seven days a week, often greeting every customer with a smile. He'll take an order on the phone, cook the food himself and even make the delivery. For his business, he said, success is determined not by whether he can get a patron to try his place but whether they'll come back, and whether they'll naturally think of Lakeside when they get hungry. "You've got to work hard to get a customer, you have to work twice as hard to keep a customer," he said.
It's been a lot of work to keep so many customers coming back. But when he gets a phone call from someone who can't remember when they've had a better sandwich, he says it's all been worth the effort. "Those compliments go a long way."
His best compliment yet came in the form of a delivery order to Lakes Region General Hospital. It's not unusual for his restaurant to deliver to employees there, so he didn't think much of the order until nurses at the maternity ward told him his customer was waiting in one of the delivery rooms. An expectant mother decided that the meal she wanted on the day of her child's birth was a meatball sub (with hot pepper relish and red onions) and jalapeño poppers from Lakeside.
"I guess we're famous now, a bewildered Henrick said in recalling the story.
His favorite part of owning a restaurant, though, is the opportunity to be charitable in his new home community. "You have to have balance," he said, "The most rewarding thing is the back part, the giving back."
After a year in business, Henrick said he's glad he decided to bring the flavors of his home town to his new home, and that he looks forward to earning more repeat customers. "I would really like to thank the people of the Lakes Region, thank you very much for your support."
CAPTION for LAKESIDE in AA:
Lakeside Famous Roast Beef owners Yvette Imhof (left) and Dave Henrick recently celebrated their business's one-year anniversary. They're shown here with employees Cameron Jakows and Cassie Nelson. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)