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)
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 919