Running a restaurant is a risky business. Many owners don’t figure out all the angles and are out of business the first year or so. But in the North Country, the family that owns Grandma’s Kitchen figured it out more than 30 years ago.
Dennis Streeter and his wife, Linda, have owned Grandma’s Kitchen since 1994.
Linda’s parents owned it for a decade before that.
As a kid, Dennis used to buy ice cream cones here.
So, the couple understands what works in Whitefield and the North Country.
“In the restaurant business you can go lots of different directions, but to be successful and to do it as long as we have, everything has to fit together,” says Dennis. “The people in the area that you live in. The type of food that you serve. The type of service that you provide. Even the look of the building.”
The restaurant is the edge of Route 3, just north of Whitefield.
There’s a counter with shiny, chrome stools, a few booths, a few tables and an easy-going demeanor. It features hearty, affordable meals with large portions.
“Being locals we know what we can afford and what we like to eat.”
The most popular? Thursday night’s all-you-can-eat fish fry for $11.95.
About 75 percent of their customers are locals.
“Eight-thirty in the morning you got the same seven guys sitting at the counter. You have the breakfast club. Later in the day you’ve got families that come in at night,” says Dennis.
At one booth, 80-year-old Buster Hammond is ordering eggs, toast, bacon and home fries with onions, please.
“Just like the last time.”
Buster’s a fan.
“Oh, I like the food. I like the atmosphere. We like the location. We get hungry right in front of this restaurant here and fill our bellies.”
There are plenty of tourists, too. And some of those tourists are regulars, coming back year after year.
TripAdvisor has almost 230 reviews, with most of them giving a rating of excellent or very good. And Grandma’s does well on Yelp, too.
The Streeters say they love what they are doing.
“Restaurant ownership, food service is a lifestyle, not a career. It gets into you, the things that you do. It is constantly changing. The challenges are every minute of every single day," says Dennis.
And Dennis says there is no plan to change.
“It’s always going to be Grandma’s Kitchen. Like Popeye said ‘I am what I am and that is all that I am’ and that is what Grandma’s Kitchen is.”
But the unanswered question is the identity of the original grandma. The restaurant was already named when Linda’s parents bought it in 1984.
Linda says they've put a trip to Whitefield’s historical society on their schedule.