LACONIA — David Kennedy, who with his wife Maureen, is converting the former Evangelical Baptist Church at Veterans Square into a restaurant and pub expects the Holy Grail of the Lakes Region to open in late April or early May.
The restaurant will be the Kennedys' second, both housed in one-time houses of worship, and both featuring an Irish ambience. The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in what what was St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.
The historic Laconia church — originally constructed at the corner of Church and North Main Streets, in front of the Public Library — resembles a large split-level ranch house with a staircase at the entrance leads to an upper and lower level. Speaking yesterday, Kennedy said 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. The main dining room and full kitchen will be n the upper level.
The dining room, featuring the stained glass windows from the church, will seat 180 diners, some in booths fashioned from the pews from the church, beneath the original tin ceiling, painted to mock copper. A second, larger bar, serving 34 draft beers and seating more than two dozen, will be situated where the church sanctuary was. And the choir loft, overlooking the dining room, at the opposite end of the building will seat another 70 diners. There are also two private rooms on the upper level as well as a small stage next the bar for live entertainment.
Kennedy said that the menu will mirror the offerings that have proven popular in Epping, while including fresh, locally grown ingredients from the Outdoor Market that flourishes on Thursday afternoons in the central parking lot behind the restaurant. There will be an array of sandwiches, salads, pasta, steak and seafood dishes.alongside traditional Irish fare, including bangers and colcannon, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, Scotch eggs, and boiled dinner, some laced with whiskey and beer.
Recently Kennedy told the Main Street Initiative that he intends to operate as a vendor in the Outdoor Market, offering some of the special and seasonal items from the restaurant's menu. John Moriarty of the Main Street Initiative anticipated that the opening of the Holy Grail would draw more traffic to the market. To ensure sufficient parking for the new restaurant the Main Street Initiative agreed to shorten the hours of the Outdoor Market, which will operate between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. instead of until 7 p.m.as it has in the past.
Kennedy explained that at his Epping restaurant he not only recycles but also removes food scraps from the trash, which he then offers to local farmers as feed for pigs, poultry and other livestock. He hopes to enter similar arrangements in the Lakes Region.
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