A glimpse into the interesting history of the commercial real estate for sale at 56 Daniel Webster Hwy in Meredith, NH… and how the prime location and visibility of this property brings great opportunity.
In fishing, real estate and business the three most important words are “location, location, location.” People have recognized the value of the Lakes Region location, location, location for thousands of years.
For example, in 1976 a University of New Hampshire anthropology professor determined that Native Americans made summer camps in the Weirs Beach area as far back as 10,000 years ago.
Today, tourism and recreation are the big draws, but back then Native Americans were particularly drawn to the area for its great fishing (I imagine it’s extraordinarily difficult to wake surf behind a canoe).
The Weirs area gets its name from a special type of wicker basket (called a weir) used to catch shad, a type of migratory fish that surged through the wide, shallow Weirs Channel on a 128 mile migration from Lake Winnipesaukee through the Merrimack River to the ocean, and back again.
Here’s how fishing worked back then (as explained by someone who “catches” his fish at Sal’s Fresh Seafood at Moulton Farm (https://www.moultonfarm.com/farm-market/sal-s-fresh-seafood) or the New Hampshire Community Seafood cooperative (https://www.nhcommunityseafood.com/): Early Native American fishers constructed “W” shaped stone walls across the width of the channel. The walls featured narrow openings at the points of the W. These gaps concentrated the considerable volume of passing shad, enabling fishers to catch the fish in weir traps that allowed water but not fish to pass through, much as commercial fishers use nets today.
If you’re wondering what in the heck this fishing story has to do with present-day real estate and business, read on…
A contemporary spot to “fish” for customers—56 Daniel Webster Highway in Meredith is to restauranteurs what the Weirs Channel was to Native American fishers: a narrow, high volume location that concentrates prospective customers traveling between Weirs Beach and the town of Meredith, much like the Weirs Channel concentrated migratory fish traveling between Lake Winnipesaukee and the sea.
This fantastic location has successfully hosted food service businesses for decades. At one time (I’m estimating the late 60s to early 70s, based on a 1971 postcard I spotted online), 56 Daniel Webster Highway was home to The Cheese House, which was a circular, yellow building one entered via a sliced out wedge. In other words, a building cleverly shaped like a wheel of cheese.
I’m not sure how good of “bait” cheese was for pulling customers in, but eventually an enterprising pizza shop took over the location, which I imagine was also well suited to look like a pizza with a slice removed (pizza is the bait that would pull me in for sure, as it also includes cheese…).
In 1978, serial restaurant entrepreneur Jim Goren (aka “Mr. Scoops”) and his wife Barbara began taking advantage of the drive-by traffic at 56 Daniel Webster Highway, which became a key location (one of many throughout New England) for the popular J.B. Scoops, which was founded in 1976 and ultimately offered over 50 flavors of great ice cream, made on-site.
Unfortunately an electrical fire destroyed the unique structure in the year 2000. The site was completely rebuilt in 2001 with more of a traditional New England look.
In 2011, under the Goren family’s entrepreneurial leadership, the location morphed into the Griddle in the Middle, a novel make-your-own / all-you-can-eat pancake restaurant that also served eggs, home fries, toast, sausage, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches and other griddle-friendly standards.
In 2015 the Gorens sensed the opportunity to supplement breakfast sales with lunch and dinner traffic, and to serve lobster lovers who were going through withdrawals due to the 2014 closing of the Lobster Pound restaurant (now Faro Italian Grille in the Weirs).
Jim and his son Kyle added The Meredith Lobster Shack & Barbecue to the establishment. The idea was to offer seafood and Kansas City-style barbecue (in case you were wondering, the barbecue was purportedly more popular than the seafood).
The property features highly visible signage that inevitably catches attention from US-3 much the way weirs inevitably caught fish in the channel. There is ample parking, abundant indoor and outdoor seating, two restrooms, and two kitchens full of new and state-of-the-art commercial equipment including:
- two 20 pound Fryolators,
- a 24 inch grill,
- multiple coolers,
- washing machine and dryer,
- a hooded Ansul fire suppression system,
- two dishwashers,
- a Point-of-Sale system,
- a walk-in cooler and
- ample prep space and sinks.
Upstairs is a spacious unfinished second floor that could be developed into office space, an owner’s apartment or more.
Outdoor writer and photographer Charles Waterman once said, “Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.” Similarly, the world is covered with commercial properties. A restauranteur’s job is to pick out the best location. If you want to catch your haul of customers 56 Daniel Webster Highway in Meredith is a site worth considering.
In 2017 Annual Average Daily Traffic (a measure of the total volume of vehicle traffic on a highway or road for a year divided by 365 days) was estimated at 7,555 vehicles per day, about 3,825 northbound and 3,730 southbound.
This is the same drive-by traffic that the nearby Mello Moose Coffee House at 136 Daniel Webster Highway (https://www.facebook.com/MelloMooseCoffeeHouse/) leveraged in its successful launch earlier this year (that property was also marketed by Roche Realty Group).
As you can see, “location, location, location” has been critical for at least 10,000 years.
Native American fishers wisely took advantage of the concentration of migratory fish in the Weirs Channel. Will your food service business be the next to take advantage of strong drive-by traffic on US-3, highly visible signage and a great, well-equipped location midway between Weirs Beach and downtown Meredith?
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.