There’s a lot to love about The Beal House Inn & Tavern of Littleton. Adam and Lori Evans Alderin purchased the six room inn and American tavern in December of 2015. Their mission: to provide comfort food in a comfortable setting for visitors to Littleton and locals alike. The two opened up about running a business, and a family, in the North Country.
BC: Tell us a bit about your backgrounds and what led you to become owners of The Beal House.
Lori: Adam has been a chef for over 15 years and was looking for his own project. I had just transitioned to real estate, and we happened to see this building on the market. We loved the space and the opportunity – we saw potential for the things we wanted and had envisioned. We really lucked out – the town has been amazing. Everyone here has been awesome, and we love being able to walk down town. Coming from southern New Hampshire, and having spent time in New York, that was really important to us.
Adam: Lori’s originally from New Hampshire and it was important for us to come back home. I grew up in Connecticut, so I’m a New England guy. This is my second time working in New Hampshire – I worked in Portsmouth for a number of years. This business was the end goal for me, and it was just waiting for the right one to come along. The community here is great, and the location was key. New Hampshire is unique in terms of the seasons that boost business. Summer is the main season, and foliage is fantastic. Then you still have ski season. The North Country was really appealing for that reason.
BC: How do you manage work-life balance living in your place of business?
Adam: In this scenario we certainly work a lot but we can also take the time where we don’t want to work. That’s important for our work-life balance. We had a baby six weeks before we did this. The amount of time that I’ve had to spend with our daughter Lydia in her first year of life wouldn’t have happened in any other scenario.
Lori: If we were to try and make the numbers work in the southern part of the state we’d need to be open for lunch and dinner five to seven days a week. Adam’s worked those hours and I’ve been with him while he’s worked those hours, but it’s certainly not ideal for the long haul for our family.
Adam: It is tough to balance and we try to get out of the house on our days off, even if it’s just going to Bretton Woods for a couple hours or going for a walk in the summer.
BC: What inspired your concept and menu?
Adam: The philosophy we took in designing the concept and menu is to make it really approachable. I want people to feel like they can dine here multiple times per month, even once a week. Perceived value is really important here. We’ve put together a small, efficient menu that we can perform and execute really well on a day to day basis.
Lori: We also try to utilize as much from the area as possible, with regards to seasonality.
Adam: It’s tough to get local sources year round in the North Country, but we get microgreens and stuff from Meadowstone Farm’s root cellar. We use local protein year round from Prospect Farm. In the summer we use as much local as possible. That’s a big factor in our menu: using what’s fresh.
BC: What are your most popular dishes?
Adam: Our menu is compact, so if you look at our sales for items, the difference between them are minute. The steak, the chicken, they’re all up there. But I would say the steak and the burger are our two most popular followed by the fried chicken.
Lori: It’s tricky to tell too since the menu is always rotating. The fish is always changing, so that will never be our number one. And we change the setup too.
Adam: Right now the chicken has hash. Over the summer it had green beans and creamed corn. The fried chicken has been on our menu for eight or nine months, and if we took it off I think people would ask, “Where is the fried chicken?!” That’s usually where people start growing their menus, and it’s a challenge for us to maintain a compact menu. It’s made us try to be more creative.
BC: This isn’t really a question, but I love Burger Night.
Adam: We struggled getting the locals in for a long time. I was told it’s crazy up here in the summer, so I didn’t want to throw a deal out there because we had that fixed audience.
Lori: Even though you had a very wise wife pushing you to do it…
Adam: [Laughing] So we got through Labor Day and tried it. It took maybe three weeks to catch on. It keeps on growing, and often we’ll see people for the first time on Burger Night and within a week or so we’ll see them again.
BC: There’s a lot of snow on the ground now, but what are you thinking for spring?
Adam: I sat with Meadowstone Farm and talked about a growing plan for this year. We were late into the game last year, so we developed a menu with what they had. This year we talked about some things I’d like to use that they didn’t grow last season. We’re working with Prospect Farm on getting some different animals from them, some lamb for the summer.
BC: What makes the Beal House Inn a unique place to stay?
Lori: Our focus with the inn is keeping it simple but comfortable. The location is ideal for being walkable to downtown. The building has its specific quirks to it – you shouldn’t expect an even floor, but that’s staying in an 1833 building. You have that historical experience together with a location right in town. It’s all right here.
BC: This post comes out on Valentine’s Day. Can you offer some thoughts on managing a marriage and a business together?
Lori: You’re both the hardest on and the most supportive of your partner, and that comes to fruition in the business too. We made this change in our lives because I 100% believe in Adam’s skill set. We’ve jumped full force into things that we’ve done together, so this just adds another to the list.
Adam: I’m forever indebted to Lori for letting me live my dream. I think if you asked Lori 10 years ago what her plan was, owning an inn and a restaurant would never have been on that list. When she first met me I don’t think owning an inn and a restaurant were on her list of plans.
Lori: I was just enjoying the food at that point!
Adam: I’m very fortunate. I said to Lori, “This is what I want to do, and this is important to me,” and here we are. We’re still doing it together.
Photos courtesy of Leah Curran of Unveiling Photography.