Food will be a draw at new Wolfeboro inn

Sunday News Correspondent
April 12. 2018 1:18PM
The Pickering House Inn in Wolfeboro is nearing completion following a two-year restoration effort by owners Peter and Patty Cooke. (BEA LEWIS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

WOLFEBORO -- Following a two-year restoration, the Pickering House Inn is nearing competition and is on track to open early this summer.

Peter Cooke, who owns the property with his wife, Patty, said exceptional guest experience will be the calling card of the historic property.

Toward that end, the Cookes recently hired Patty Roche, an experienced culinary professional, to lead their staff as manager/chef. The owners were attracted by her warm, approachable personality, which they believe is key to creating a truly special destination.

Roche said she is already forging relationships with area farmers with an eye toward using the freshest local ingredients.

"We're going to purchase as much locally as we can. It has a nice trickle-down effect," said Roche, who spent 15 years at Stonewall Kitchen, where she founded the company's well-known cooking school and taught more than 1,500 cooking classes.

The property takes its name from Daniel Pickering, who became one of Wolfeboro's most prominent citizens. Built in 1813, it was expanded five years later and eventually grew to 6,500 square feet, with more than 90 windows and served as both a tavern and boarding house.

Patty Roche, manager/chef at the new Pickering House Inn in Wolfeboro, shows off the vanity plate on her car that pays tribute to her father, a third-generation butcher. (BEA LEWIS/SUNDAY NEWS CORRESPONDENT)

While many of the historic features of the house have been retained, the latest technology has been incorporated into each of the en suite bathrooms. All are equipped with custom showers, outfitted with Kohler auto controls allowing guests to set an exacting water temperature. The pampering continues with radiant heated floors and lighted magnifying make-up mirrors.

The 112 S. Main St. property had gone into foreclosure after years of deferred maintenance and was targeted as the site of a generic commercial development because of its prime location.

After learning that the house that the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance had included on its Seven to Save list, was scheduled to be razed, the Cookes stepped in to save it.

"What is nice is that they really listened to me," Roche said in a recent interview as she showed off the space that will soon become a completely outfitted commercial kitchen.

"I know what is coming in here, and a lot of really great thought went into its design," she continued.

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Inn guests will be served breakfast daily as well as a late afternoon snack dubbed "light bites." All will be served in the gathering kitchen, a unique space with plenty of windows that can seat up to 25 people.

In her new position, Roche will also be hosting special Innkeeper Suppers for guests. In addition, both Roche and invited guest chefs will offer pop-up dining opportunities, cooking classes and other food-related special events open to Inn guests and the public.

Roche's hiring, Cooke said, reflects their goal to create a unique experience for their guests with the added benefit of enriching the life of the community through special events that are open to the public. Inn guests have the option of joining in, or can decide to dine elsewhere.

The events will be held in the attached barn, which can seat 150 and is available to rent for wedding receptions and other private functions. With input from Roche, the design includes an outside area set up to serve caterers that includes access to hot and cold water.

Madison Dullea will serve as innkeeper. Like Roche, she attended Endicott College. While Dullea majored in hospitality, Roche studied marketing and retail. Both are ServSafe certified through the National Restaurant Association.

"We hired the best people that we could find," Cooke said. "Our concept is a little bit different having a 10-room inn and event space. With someone with Patty's culinary skill it's a different model."

Scheduled for a soft opening in June, Cooke said, the weather has posed some challenges in getting the exterior finished and landscaped. The formal opening will occur in time for the Fourth of July.

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