Lou's: A Hanover Tradition Since 1947
May 01, 2012 09:15AM ● Published by Erin Frisch
A couple years after World War II, Lou Bressett, a recently discharged Marine, opened Lou’s Restaurant on Main Street in Hanover, New Hampshire. Lou’s met with great success, and over the years it has remained a Hanover tradition because of its delectable dishes, great prices, and welcoming atmosphere. We caught up with current co-owner, Pattie Fried, to find out what makes Lou’s such a local staple.
Here In Hanover: What is it about Lou’s that makes it so special to the local population?
Pattie Fried: Fresh, delicious, traditional and innovative foods served by waitstaff who know you by name, remember how you like your eggs cooked, heard you just got engaged, or that your child is not well. Comforting familiarity, something you can count on being “like it was,” but even better! We grow very attached to our customers and want to take really good care of them when they are here. We are, after all, the current caretakers of this 65-year-old gathering spot.
HIH: What is your personal favorite on the menu?
PF: I have two of them … Very Berry Buttermilk pancakes filled with sweet blueberries and tart cranberries, drizzled with real local maple syrup is a breakfast favorite that I always go back to. Tortilla Soup is my other favorite. This savory soup has been on the menu for over 25 years. It’s a spiced homemade broth with sliced grilled chicken topped with homemade tortilla chips, melted cheese, jalapeños, and guacamole. It is the epitome of comfort food!
HIH: Who is the most famous person to visit Lou’s?
PF: That depends on who you ask. Over the course of 65 years, many famous people have visited Lou’s. Rock stars, movie stars, writers, politicians, and activists. I think the visitor that had the biggest impact was Gloria Steinem (a feminist, journalist, social and political activist, and media spokeswoman for the Women’s Liberation Movement).
HIH: Lou’s has a rich history. Can you explain how the restaurant has changed since 1947?
PF: I have always believed that change is growth, but with Lou’s we have to be very mindful of the changes we make. Customers come back and want to find their favorite item still on the menu. We can’t mess too much with that “comforting familiarity.”
A 65-year-old restaurant has to be innovative and stay current with eating trends. We are headed toward offering more local and sustainable entrees—vegan and vegetarian entrees that go beyond veggie burgers. Our chef, Shawn Nelson, does a great job creating fantastic specials that are hip, healthy, and tasty.
If you walked into Lou’s in the 1950s, you’d notice that 99 percent of the customers were men. In 1972, Dartmouth became coed and added another very positive element to the Lou’s experience. In 1992, as young parents we saw the need for a restaurant in town that welcomed families and offered a healthy and well-priced kids' menu.
The other change would be the bakery. When we bought Lou’s in 1992, the bakery made donuts, crullers, cookies, and some pies. Toby (my co-owner) has expanded the bakery to include cakes, pies, cupcakes, and his favorite Austrian holiday and seasonal specials.
Our website was a big change—it offers online bakery ordering, and we are dipping our toes into the world of social media.
HIH: You were the first independent restaurant in New Hampshire to be certified as a “green” restaurant. Tell us why you decided to “go green.”
PF: Each one of us needs to think more about our individual impact on the environment. The restaurant business uses 33 percent of US retail electricity. On average, restaurants use 300,000 gallons of water and create 500,000 pounds of waste annually. This is such a big part of what we do. Lou’s has replaced their appliances with Energy Star-rated equipment, replaced regular lightbulbs with energy-efficient bulbs, installed energy-efficient windows, and adjusted water flow. Lou’s also uses biodegradable take-out containers and recycles cooking oil as biofuel. Each year we are challenged to come up with more ways to operate a restaurant in a mindful and sustainable way. We are very excited to be installing solar panels that will heat our water, and we continue to be faced with our biggest hurdle yet, composting. We hope our customers appreciate the opportunity to do their part by dining with us.
What's your favorite dish?