With a new chef, Granite Restaurant and Bar, one of Concord’s high-end eateries, reopened this week

  • Executive Chef Charlie Lavery displays two new cold dishes, featured on a brand new menu for the Granite Restaurant and Bar. Ben Domaingue / Monitor staff

  • General Manager Laura Leslie has been with The Centennial Hotel since April 2019, working as a director of sales, later promoted to general manager. She has helped lead the hotel and reopening throughout the pandemic. Ben Domaingue/ Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/28/2021 5:15:55 PM

After nearly 18 months, Granite Restaurant and Bar is reopening its doors after taking a cautious approach to COVID-19. 

Unlike standalone eateries in Concord, Granite Restaurant is located in the Centennial Hotel, which suffered from a lack of travel and tourism during the pandemic that plagued the hospitality industry. Eventually, once vaccinations became available, guests returned.

Laura Leslie, the general manager of The Centennial Hotel, noted that when the hotel officially reopened in August of 2020, bookings were higher than anticipated.

“We were very pleasantly surprised to see that there were still folks traveling,” said Leslie. “I don’t think we expected that.”

As one of Concord’s high-end eating establishments, the restaurant wasn’t troubled by the labor shortages affecting others in the industry and was able to retain much of its staff, Leslie said.

“We’re really lucky with having folks, some of them have been here 13 years,” said Leslie. “I think one of the things that sets us apart is because we are smaller, it has somewhat of a family feel to it. We have a lot of repeat guests, so everyone that works here builds a rapport with them and they know them.” 

As the restaurant remained closed, many of the employees were reassigned to other departments within the hotel. Those who chose to find new jobs at other restaurants were contacted and given an opportunity to return to the Granite Restaurant and Bar. 

Along with its reopening this week, the restaurant revamped its entire menu and hired a new executive chef to oversee its backend operations. The former chef found employment elsewhere and chose not to return. 

“We were picky with who we were choosing,” said Leslie. “Even though we had applicants, our number one priority was someone who wanted to be here, it wasn’t just a job or a paycheck to them. [We wanted someone] that was like ‘I see the vision.’”

The person who saw that vision of elevated cuisine using locally sourced ingredients was Charlie Lavery, an experienced chef from Hancock. Lavery has worked in restaurants in North Conway, Boston and Portland. As the chef behind the reopening, Lavery has dedicated much of his time working with front staff and his cooks to prepare for the influx of customers. 

“It’s been tough,” said Lavery. “It’s been a lot of hours, kind of getting everything up and running.” 

While training staff and reworking the kitchen, Lavery created an entirely new menu, which he expects to bring in additional business for the restaurant. They are offering some new bites like grilled local street corn and pumpkin bisque and some classics like Shrimp and Grits and a New York Strip Steak. 

“I mean, nothing crazy considering the size [of the restaurant], but I think we’ll do pretty steady business,” said Lavery. “It seems to work price-wise, I think.” 

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