Lou's Celebrates 70 Years of Feeding Hanover
The morning rush has given way to scattered groups of diners leisurely sipping coffee when I arrive at Lou's Restaurant & Bakery in Hanover. I'm greeted at the door by cozy booths, warm lighting, and the scent of fresh baked goods where a cheerful cashier stands behind a case of to-go muffins, crullers, and cookies. Now in its 70th year of continuous operation, Lou's is a Hanover institution, beloved by Dartmouth students and townspeople alike.
"It wasn't a restaurant, it was a bakery my husband Toby was looking for," Pattie Fried, co-owner of Lou's recalls. She and her husband Toby, the third owners of Lou's, hadn't planned on becoming restaurateurs when they uprooted from Boston 29 years ago. The previous owner, Bob Watson, had been looking for a baker to lease the bakery but Toby didn't want to risk losing the space if a new owner felt differently. The idea stuck, and Pattie and Toby bought Lou's from Bob in 1992. "At that point, we had to step back and tried to bring Lou’s back to what we thought Lou’s would be best at," Pattie says, "We decided we would try and make it look like it did when Lou had it, but also update it and keep it fresh."
When they first started running the restaurant and bakery, "Lou used to walk in every day. He only drank out of a cup and saucer, he didn’t like mugs. And he was watching, because it really is his legacy...One of the things he told us from the very beginning was don’t mess with the photos on the wall," Pattie remembers. The photos, black and white glossies of Dartmouth professors, students and local businessmen (all male), had been the subject of heated debate. Today, the gallery features photos of the original "Lou's Rogues" alongside those who've made Lou's what it is today- past employees, locals who come in for their daily coffee, and Ann Bresett, Lou's wife. "She worked here but nobody knew about Ann, so for me it was like Ann’s going up there," Pattie says with a smile.
This commitment to tradition while keeping things fresh has made for an iconic breakfast and lunch spot that lives up to the hype. Seated in a Dartmouth-green booth, diners can enjoy a wide range of options, including classic American breakfast plates like "The Big Green"- two eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, your choice of pancakes, French toast or cruller French toast, and a muffin, toast or English muffin- to modern Instagram darlings like the Açai Bowl.
Pattie's favorite is the Tortilla Soup, and for breakfast, the poached egg special. "The healthy stuff sells really well on the weekends," she says, and the chef has been experimenting with Buddha bowls and bone broth based soups. That said, there's no shortage of traditional comfort food. Ginny, a server who's worked at Lou's for 23 years, loves the Reuben for lunch. "It's the best I've ever had," she says. "I vouch for that!" a diner seated at a booth a few feet away chimes in.
Lou's Restaurant & Bakery is located at 30 South Main Street in Hanover, New Hampshire. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday 6am-3pm and 7am-3pm on weekends. The bakery is open Monday through Friday 6am-5pm, Saturday 7am-5pm, and Sunday 7am-3pm. Lou's Restaurant & Bakery also offers catering, wholesale baked goods, and Dartmouth care packages. To learn more, visit Lou's online.