SOMERSWORTH — After surpassing their fundraising goal, the local trio behind Leaven Beer & Bread House know they have support from the community, even as more donations keep coming in.
As construction comes to an end and final preparations are underway inside the 44 Market St. location, there’s a lot of interest and excitement from donors and passersby who can see they’re on the verge of something special, one of the owners said.
“Once we’re ready, we’ll open and then we’ll let everyone know,” Emmett Soldati said, adding they are still waiting for their licensing as they finish up renovations in the 19th century building that has been unused for the past decade.
After Soldati and his partners — Aidan Watson and Patrick Jackman — hosted events to drum up interest in the past year, they have raised more than $10,000 of their $40,000 budget from friends, neighbors and residents through their website — www.leavennh.com — or their Facebook page.
In exchange, investors will receive vouchers every other month to reward them. These vouchers provide incentives that will establish a solid customer base even before doors open, Soldati said.
“Leaven is as much about amazing bread and beer as it is establishing a foothold in the community,” he said.
Soldati said their efforts have inspired others in the community, including a friend who started brewing mead and honey wine in the adjacent downtown mill building. He added they plan to offer the local brew as one of the craft options at Leaven.
“We always talk to people who are impressed and ask if we can review their business plans,” Soldati said, adding they hope this creates a new trend of growth and success in Somersworth.
“We can entirely create our community,” Soldati said, adding “as long as the community supports these small businesses, they will succeed, and outsiders will come.”
Leaven will be able to seat about 40 people inside and another 20 on the outdoor patio overlooking the Salmon Falls River.
“The outdoor seating will be kind of a boon,” Watson said, adding they plan to install outdoor heating units to extend the season.
Instead of competing with a well-established base of craft breweries in the area, Watson said Leaven can feature local beers, wines and other carefully crafted drinks to accompany its fresh bread.
Additionally, Soldati said they decided against cooking fried food and do not plan to offer pizza as a regular menu item.
“I think it inspires a lot of intelligent cooking,” Soldati said, adding the fresh sourdough bread will work well with bratwurst, Reuben sandwiches and a variety of vegetarian dishes.
“It’s much more about the celebration of food,” Soldati said, adding this will offer something different to the area without directly competing with its other restaurants in the downtown.
Soldati and Watson, who continue to work with their fathers — former Mayor Lincoln Soldati and Doug Watson — to finish the interior, plan to decorate Leaven with woodblock art, local pictures and chalkboards emphasizing their specials.
They expect Leaven to host small, live music sessions and offer an intimate environment for friends to gather and enjoy the combination of bread and beers.
Up until opening, area residents still have the opportunity to purchase vouchers.