When Dave Barrette lived in Orlando, he was a chef. So it’s not a surprise that as he and his wife, Kait, settle into their new ownership of Main Street Kitchens in Hanover, they plan to make food more of a feature. This may seem an odd thing to say about a kitchen-supply store. But under Marv and Mary Schouten, who owned Main Street Kitchens for almost 22 years, the focus was on the things that surround food: pots, pans, serving dishes, knives, salt shakers, pepper grinders, cookbooks… whatever a home cook might want to use in her or his kitchen.
The Barrettes are from the Upper Valley — he grew up in Hanover, she in Norwich — and when they decided to return home with their young daughter, they initially thought about taking over a restaurant in Hanover. The Canoe Club was a possibility; so was the space where EBA’s used to be. What stopped them were the high rents. “When you’re working on really small margins [in a restaurant], it’s almost impossible to make a profit,” Dave says.
Given his background, Barrette found Main Street Kitchens a comfortable fit. “I love using the equipment in the kitchen, and can marry the home cook and the professional cook, so that folks in the Upper Valley can see what’s going on in the industry,” he says. So while the Barrettes don’t intend to “mess with” the Schoutens’ model, as Dave puts it, they do want to push the store in some new directions. They’ll be bringing in more equipment that chefs use—like culinary tweezers and Shun and Kikuichi knives. As time goes on, they’ll also be adding local foods like jams, jellies and pickles. And they’ll be stocking what he calls “a world pantry”: nut oils from France, salts from around the world, vinegars and, eventually, items like cheese and charcuterie. They plan tastings and demos — how to sharpen knives, how to make fresh pasta, how to create a cheese board. “We want to be a one-stop shop,” Barrette says.