Transformation: Wait is over for opening of restaurant & pub in circa 1836 Laconia church

LACONIA — The Holy Grail of the Lakes restaurant and pub has opened in the former Evangelical Baptist Church on Veterans Square after a renovation project which took over a year.
''It was a big project. We gutted everything and had to put in new plumbing and electricity and had to upgrade the gas line. We recycled the pews and used some of them for the bar top. We built a choir loft which seats 70 and put in stairs to the third floor,'' says Khalid Farid, co-owner with David Kennedy of the Holy Grail.
''David and I were here just about every day working on the project,'' says Farid, noting that it was a long drive up from Hampton for both of them.
Kennedy says that their goal was to preserve the character of the historic two and a half story wood frame church building, which was built as a Congregational church in 1836 and moved from its Church Street location — to its current space in Veterans Square after it had been purchased by the Baptists in 1903.
The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985 and Kennedy and Farid said that they preserved as many of the features of the church as possible.
The second story dining room features the stained glass windows from the church and seats 180 diners, some in booths fashioned from the pews from the church, beneath the original tin ceiling, painted to mock copper. The bar, serving 34 draft beers and seating more than two dozen, is situated where the church sanctuary was. The menu features traditional Irish food.
''We wanted it to be as comfortable and relaxing as possible. The natural light from the windows helps achieve that. We want or customers to feel at home here,'' says Kennedy.
He says as part of the project an addition was built at the rear of the church on the second floor to provide space for a modern 700-square-foot kitchen.
It is the second restaurant Kennedy has built in a former church. In 2008 he built the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping, which has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.
Kennedy says the lower level will house a cafe, bar and prep kitchen with seating for patrons having drinks and snacks and picking up take-out orders.

CAPTION: pix slugged holy grail

David Kennedy stands in the choir loft at the Holy Grail of the Lakes Region, a historic church which he and his partner Khalid Farid have converted into a restaurant and pub. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

'Goodly' amount of pot said found with young man near Kingwood High School

WOLFEBORO — Police arrested 17-year-old Bradley Smart for allegedly possessing a "goodly" amount of marijuana while driving on an access road behind Kingswood Regional High School on Monday.

Smart, of Ossipee, was observed driving his car without wearing a seat belt by an officer who was on duty courtesy of a "Ticket or Click it" safety grant.

The officer smelled marijuana and searched the car finding e-cigarettes, a marijuana pipe packed with marijuana, a glass mason jar with marijuana broken down into individual sales amounts, assorted paraphernalia, and two partially-filled gallon bottles of alcohol.

Smart was arrested at the scene and charged with possession of marijuana, transportation of alcohol in a car, transportation of marijuana in a car, and felony possession of marijuana in a school zone. The later charge comes with enhanced penalties upon conviction.

Smart was released on bail and given a court date in June in the 3rd Circuit Court, Ossipee Division.

18-year-old survives Rte. 106 rollover

BELMONT — An 18-year-old woman was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia yesterday with what fire officials said were serious but non life-threatening injuries after rolling her car on Rte. 106 near Concord Road.

Fire Chief Dave Parenti said the 2007 Chevy minivan appeared to have rolled over at least once before coming to a rest on it's side.

He said the driver was initially headed south but her vehicle landed in the northbound lane.

"She was in the air for a while, but I don't know how often she rolled," said Parenti.

Parenti said she had injuries to her leg, he head and possibly a broken wrist.

Firefighters had to cut the roof off the minivan to get her out of it. Parenti said it took them nine minutes to cut it open and get her out, which he said was a excellent job.

Police said Route 106 was closed completely for a short time and later reopened to one lane while police continued to investigate and the van was towed from the scene.

Police said it's too early to know what caused the crash and the investigation continues.