Closure of the Contoocook Covered Bridge restaurant as the owner retires

Posted: 1/3/2022 14:56:29 PM

Modified: 1/3/2022 14:55:49 PM

After 20 years, the Contoocook covered bridge restaurant is closing as its owner retires, but the site is expected to be reborn this summer as a new restaurant.

The decision to close the restaurant overlooking the covered bridge of the Contoocook railway stems from several factors, including the loss of its lease. It just finished full service this weekend and will be offering a limited menu with discounts until Friday, January 7.

“A lot of people are really sad. A lot of people come to me, they say ‘we love you, this is my favorite’, ”said owner Donna Walsh. “I will miss the customers. But hey, it’s time to retire and enjoy life.

Walsh, along with her husband Russ, opened the restaurant in March 2002 in an empty building that was previously a restaurant. Prior to that, she had worked in Chinese and American restaurants and oversaw the creation of menus that included everything from triple Hong Kong lo mein to Chicken Broccoli Alfredo to BBQ pork ribs. To ensure there is something for everyone, the restaurant also serves chimichangas, tacos and quesadillas.

The Contoocook Covered Bridge restaurant flourished despite a few bumps, including a hepatitis A alert in 2013 that saw it voluntarily shut down for a week, and the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic that was brutal for the industry.

“We don’t make money, we lose some money – but with government money we survive,” Walsh said of the past two years. “Without it, we would have closed a year ago.

The building was purchased in 2015 by Brian Cressy, with the two-year lease and four-year extension soon running out. He plans to make it into what he calls the Reed’s Tavern, a name taken from the building’s construction in 1900 as the Reed’s Drug Store.

“It’s been a dream of mine for about 11 years,” Cressy said. “I have loved the staff and the food at the Covered Bridge for years, but I am very happy to bring something new and fresh to the city.”

Contoocook Chamber of Commerce President Meredith Lee echoed the sentiment on Monday.

“From a chamber of commerce perspective, we are delighted that this space remains a place where we can all come together,” she said. “Kudos to Donna for staying with her during the pandemic… and we can’t wait to see what Briany Cressy does. “

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