St. Onge promoted in wealth management dept. at Bank NH


LACONIA — Michael St. Onge has been promoted to senior vice president-investment officer at Bank of New Hampshire.

"Michael has more than 19 years of experience in financial and investment management services," said Cydney Shapleigh-Johnson, executive vice president-chief wealth management officer in announcing St. Onge's promotion.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Resource Economics from the University of New Hampshire and a Masters in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. Michael is a Certified Investment Management Analyst® professional having completed IMCA credentialing requirements.


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Michael St. Onge

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Irwin tire sales raises $1,211 for Pub Mania

LACONIA — The Irwin Automotive Group has donated $1,211 in proceeds from a tire sale promotion.

When customers who purchased tires in November Irwin Automotive donated $1 for every tire sold, helping to raise funds for Pub Mania which in turn supports the local Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction.

This was Pub Mania's eighth year holding the fundraiser and was hosted by Patrick's Pub. Proceeds go to support the Children's Auction which has been around for 32 years with a mission to help as many children in the Lakes Region as they can by collecting donations from a number of programs and organizations.
This is the Irwin Automotive Group's third year participating in this fundraising program.


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Holy Grail asks for a mulligan

By Adam Drapcho


LACONIA — It seemed like a great idea. David and Maureen Kennedy were enjoying the success of their church-turned-Irish-Restaurant in Epping, the Holy Grail, when they were invited to create a partnership to replicate their model in Laconia, renovating the former home of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Veterans Square to create the Holy Grail of the Lakes. From the beginning, though, it didn’t go as planned. The owners planned to open in March, so they could work out the kinks with staff, service and equipment, but construction delays pushed opening to Memorial Day 2014.

Timing can be everything, and such was the case for the Holy Grail of the Lakes. If things had gone according to plan, and the restaurant had opened in early spring, the servers would have had time to learn the menu, and the cooks would have become familiar with recipes and their equipment. They didn’t have those opportunities, though, until they opened the doors at the beginning of the busy tourism season. This would have been difficult for most restaurants but it was especially challenging for the Holy Grail of the Lakes, because so many locals were interested to see how the church had been transformed into a restaurant.

The result was that some diners, unaware of how difficult can be to open a new restaurant, were disappointed with their experience. Meanwhile, there was discord behind the scenes as well, which likely contributed to the staggering rate of staff turnover that first summer – the restaurant went through more than 100 employees during its first five months of operation. The partnership that opened the restaurant has since dissolved, and David and Maureen are now the sole proprietors of the restaurant. They’re asking for Laconia to give them a second chance at a first impression.

“I apologize that when people came in and gave us our shot, they didn’t get what they were expecting,” said David Kennedy. Since then, Kennedy said, the restaurant has worked through all its kinks and now provides the experience that has made the Epping location such a success. Yet, the Laconia location hasn’t seen that success, and the Kennedys have been using profits from their Epping restaurant to keep the local site open.

That’s why they have taken the unusual step of publishing a letter of apology, addressed to “Residents of Laconia and Visitors of the Lakes Region.” The letter was published in an advertisement on Jan. 5. In an interview last week, Kennedy said that he is encouraged by the growing vibrancy of the city’s downtown, but that he can’t indefinitely subsidize the business.

“There’s not enough people coming in the doors to pay the bills – we’re not able to make it unless people are willing to come in and give us a second chance.”

On Saturday, Jan. 21, David and Maureen are throwing a “Second Chance Party” at the restaurant, featuring a live radio broadcast, raffles, prizes and give-aways, encouraging local diners to visit. Kennedy said the party is an open invitation to local diners, to “let everyone know we would love to see them in here again.” He would also welcome people who have criticism, to approach him or Maureen and let them know what they could do better.

“The bottom line is, I don’t know why people don’t come in here,” he said. The restaurant’s location, in Veterans Square, is easy to find, and the interior, as a renovated church, is unlike anything else in the region. With 32 taps, the Holy Grail beer selection includes a blend of the best local craft beers as well as ales and lagers from across the Atlantic. The food is prepared under the direction of Richard Provino, a chef trained by the Culinary Institute of America. Provino said that while the menu is unpretentious, there’s more to the food than meets the eye.

“It’s high-quality ingredients, produced predominantly from scratch,” said Provino. “We cook more here than people think we do.”

Items that exemplify the care given to humble food, said Provino, are the Guinness beef stew, which cooks for hours; shepherd’s pie, which has a mixture of beef and lamb; seafood chowder made with fresh fish; and corned beef dinner, made with brisket brined in-house.

For the Kennedys, making the business sustainable is about more than dollars and cents. “We aren’t the type of people that are in this just for the money,” he said. When they were first looking at downtown Laconia, a few years ago, they saw streets where there were more vacant storefronts than occupied. Since then, several new stores have opened, and with the Colonial Theatre project on the horizon, the future seems bright for downtown. The Holy Gail would like to be part of the downtown’s revival, but David wants to know if local diners want to keep him around.

“We want to keep it going, we want to keep it open. But if no one comes in here, we are wasting our time,” he said.

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Chef Richard Provino stirs a batch of Guinness beef stew, one of the many dishes at the Holy Grail of the Lakes that are made in-house, from scratch. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun photo)

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Constructed in the former Evangelical Baptist Church in Veterans Square, the Holy Grail of the Lakes boasts an atmosphere unlike anything else. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun photo)

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Restaurants raise over $14,500 for Boys & Girls Clubs

TILTON — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire recently received a check for $14,628 from the 99 Restaurants in Tilton and Concord.

The funds were raised by team members and guests during Boys & Girls Club month in October. They will help the club deliver after-school services to children the Lakes Region and Greater Concord.


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Bank NH makes $120,000 donation to local United Ways


LACONIA — Bank of New Hampshire and its employees have raised in excess of $ 120,000 to donate to local United Ways.

"Year after year, the employees of Bank of New Hampshire remain dedicated to the bank's mission of supporting New Hampshire communities," said Mark Primeau, the bank's president and CEO. "Our annual United Way contribution is an outstanding example of that dedication."

In addition to employee contributions and the bank's match, Bank of New Hampshire's United Way Committee, consisting of Jared Price, Candice Hada, Jenn Watson, Nikki Holgate and Maya Colt, coordinated fundraisers such as jeans days and bake sales to raise an additional $1,884.

Jared Price, assistant vice president and loan operations manager and Jenn Watson, loan operations supervisor, volunteered to be the campaign co-chairs for the bank. Scoop Welch, area director of the Central Region for Granite United Way said, "Bank of New Hampshire is the number one United Way workplace campaign in the Central Region. The United Way committee and employees of Bank of New Hampshire are some of United Way's greatest champions. Each of these individuals demonstrates their dedication to the community through their generosity. Bank of New Hampshire and its employees continue to make a positive impact in this region and throughout the state and we thank them for their continued support."


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Mark Primeau, left, president and CEO for Bank of New Hampshire, stands with some of the bank's staff which helped organize the bank's involvement with the recent United Way campaign, from second left are Candice Hada, systems support and operations analyst for Bank of New Hampshire; Nikki Holgate, deposit operations representative; Jenn Watson, loan operations supervisor; Maya Colt, administrative assistant; and Jared Price, assistant vice president and loan operations manager. (Courtesy photo)

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