While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced numerous businesses in Hanover to close in recent months, several new local eateries are set to open this spring, some in the spaces formerly occupied by Market Table and Salt Hill Pub. Among these new restaurants is “The Nest,” a cafe and deli set to fill the space left by Morano Gelato after it shuttered last year.
According to the restaurant’s owner Amber Boland, who currently owns and operates Blue Sparrow Kitchen in Norwich, Vermont, The Nest will offer both takeout and dine-in options for all three meals. Initially, the restaurant will offer the same breakfast and lunch menu as its Norwich counterpart with a focus on salads and sandwiches. However, The Nest will also be open for dinner — a meal not currently offered at Blue Sparrow Kitchen. Beer and wine will also be served.
The Nest will also offer grab-and-go meal options and home cooking kits in which the restaurant will provide “as many local and fresh ingredients as possible” to allow customers to prepare meals at home, Boland said.
Boland said that the idea to open a deli in Hanover came to be after the Hanover Improvement Society reached out to her following a study, conducted by a group of first-year MBA students from the Tuck School of Business, that examined the types of businesses that would do well in the former Morano location.
Hanover Improvement Society general manager Jeff Graham said that Tuck students have historically assisted the Society with a number of local business projects, and some Tuck students consulted with him last fall to “help navigate what [they] could do with the empty space after [Morano] left.”
Due to Blue Sparrow Kitchen’s success in Vermont and Boland’s professional relationship with the Hanover Improvement Society through her work in Norwich, Boland said Graham contacted her to see if she had interest in opening a new eatery in town.
Mimi Grozeva ’24 said she is looking forward to having dining options that are more casual than other Hanover restaurants. Grozeva added that she hopes the new restaurant “has more variety and can accommodate more needs,” including vegetarian and vegan options.
Grozeva added that “it [would be] great to have one more option for coffee” in town following the permanent closure of King Arthur Flour cafe in the Baker-Berry library, as well as Dirt Cowboy’s recent temporary closure for renovations.
According to Boland, The Nest hopes to capitalize on Hanover’s current absence of large group dining options. With plans for 49 indoor and 25 outdoor seats, she said that there will be an option for groups to rent the entire space for private events.
“Even though it's a small restaurant, we’ll hopefully be able to have small events,” she said. “One of the things that some folks [have] missed [since] Everything But Anchovies went out of business was there was no [longer a] place to have their team dinners. We're hoping to get some of that started again in town.”
While planning and preparation has been successful thus far, Boland noted that there have been a few speed bumps along the way. The pandemic has delayed the delivery of seating furniture and slowed the issuance of building permits necessary to move forward with renovations. She added that The Nest’s targeted opening date is now Memorial Day weekend, rather than early May as initially planned.
There have also been issues with staffing, according to Boland. Due to the restaurant’s larger capacity and lengthy hours of operation — from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. — Boland noted that they will be looking to hire upwards of 40 employees. She hopes to capitalize on delivery either by providing their own bicycle delivery service or by partnering with existing services such as Snackpass.
Boland said she hopes The Nest can be similar to its Norwich counterpart in providing people with good food and a space to socialize.
“[The Blue Sparrow in Norwich] is like a community resource, not just for food, but … a traditional cafe,” she said. “We hope to bring that to Hanover where [The Nest can be] this really happy place where people just [bump] into people, have long conversations and just see friendly faces all day.”