We all want to live like a local when we visit an area we love. This is a snapshot into how a local spends their day, and how they invest in the Mt. Washington Valley community. Support their businesses and the non-profits they donate to. The more you, as a visitor, invest and integrate in the valley, the more local you’ll become!
Food is the way in which many of us make connections; meals bring people together, we talk over dinner, and show support by bringing meals to loved ones. And let’s face it, what’s the top subject we search for online when going on vacation? “Best Restaurants Near Me,” right?!
A great dining experience can make or break a vacation. And Kendra’s cooking makes you feel like you’re right at home.
Kendra graduated from the Balsams Culinary School in Dixville Notch. A revered program that took place on the grounds of one of New Hampshire’s historic “grand hotels,” this culinary program was intensive and focused on all aspects of cooking - from baking to butchering to catering. It required chefs to apprentice at resorts throughout the country, sending Kendra to a hotel as far as Scottsdale, Arizona to learn how to make pastry.
She came out of that program as the best chef possible.
And she’s sharing those skills at her shop, Veno’s Specialty Foods and Meats. Five years ago, a defunct KFC building came up for lease, and Kendra had a vision. She saw potential in the old fast-food structure, and revamped it from top to bottom. When you walk into the store now, you’re greeted by incredibly friendly staff, an interior that speaks to the quality of the food Veno’s is serving, and rows and rows of homemade meals-to-go, as well as freshly prepared meats and food items that hail from farms in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
(Hint: You have to take home a batch of her Buffalo Mac and Cheese, and “Tuckerman Chicken” which has a marinade using local ingredients like the beer brewed by Tuckerman Brewing Company, right down the street.)
Everything is made from scratch, right down to the mayo they use in recipes, and all of the recipes have been created by Kendra herself. To her, her work is so much bigger than food. “A chicken pot pie that I picked up from the shop, in my oven, means less time preparing food, and more time playing with my kids. I know that I am preparing quality meals for the folks in our community, that they can feel good about serving their families. And I also know that I am giving them their time back by freeing them from meal prep, so they can focus on more important things.”
Family is really important to Kendra, and it extends beyond just her husband (who, as she says, “is my biggest cheerleader - only the best partner fully supports renovating a KFC to turn it into a butcher shop right after having a baby!”) and her two children. She considers her staff family too, and does everything she can to make sure they’re supported.
Since family is the cornerstone of her personal and professional lives, here’s how Kendra spends a day in Mt. Washington Valley that makes the most of time spent with those she loves!
As soon as we wake up, Jason and I are taking the kids to Priscilla’s Country Kitchen! Located in North Conway, I’ve been going there for years, and I remember the owner, Carol, coming to hold my newborn baby for me so I could enjoy my meal. The owners, Ken and Carol, are always there to greet everyone that comes is, and they’re menu is always fresh - right down to its hand-squeezed juice.
Our kids love to be outside, so we’ll work off our pancakes from Priscilla’s at Schouler Park. My kids love the little water park in the summer, and love sledding on the hill behind the park.
We’ll also take our dogs to Whitaker Woods, right outside North Conway Village, and take them for a walk on the 45km trail network.
Believe in Books’ Storybook Trail is also dog-friendly, and the literacy foundation regularly updates the story that is told at different postmarks throughout the trail, with characters from stories the kids recognize.
Of course both pups and kids deserve treats after so much exercise, that we’ll take the dogs to Four Your Paws Only for a new toy or freshly baked dog treat. The kids will make a stop at Zeb’s General Store, which has one of the longest old fashioned candy counters in New Hampshire!
Before we go anywhere though, we’re making a stop at the shop (Veno’s) to grab some chicken and pasta salads to make a packed lunch out of. It’s great to be able to walk in and get something I know is quality to serve my family, without having to spend hours making it at home.
This is a huge hit for campers as well. Veno’s is an epicenter to surrounding campgrounds, with Beach Camping Area right across the street, and many more campgrounds only a few miles up the road in both directions. Veno’s grab-and-go meals are perfect for campers, canoers and kayakers, hikers, and busy families on the go!
Kendra and her husband will also take the kids to The Christmas Loft, a warehouse of a store dedicated to…Christmas! It’s a great place to let them explore, and its really fun to shop.
When she and her husband go out for a date night, they’re going to Black Cap Grille! Not only does that restaurant serve the crispiest fries, but it also has an extensive Mocktail Menu - the only of its kind found throughout the valley. It’s sister restaurant, Barley and Salt, has a a 20-plus beer menu of beer found throughout the region!
Get to know our locals, attend their favorite events, grab a drink at their favorite bar, support their favorite local shops, and donate to the non-profits they support. The more you do that, the more local you'll become!
Be sure to sing the MWV Pledge as well! It's a ten-point list of best practices to respect the White Mountain National Forest and all it encompasses. It's the first part of planning any trip to Mt. Washington Valley!
explore our full list of locals
Select a local below to help you plan your itinerary!
When recreating in Mt. Washington Valley, please remember the 7 principles of Leave No Trace, and make the MWV Pledge to yourself, to the locals, and to the upcoming generations that you will help preserve and protect the land so we can all enjoy it for years to come.