Hometown Hero: Alan Andrian of Boscawen does more than run a beloved local restaurant
|Published: 01-21-2024 7:00 PM
You’ve probably seen the sign hugging Route 3 in Boscawen, near the Penacook border.
It’s big and announces that the restaurant located there, Alan’s of Boscawen – a landmark in the region – remains open after a 40-year run. The owner and founder, Alan Andrian, pops into his pub and dining areas now and then and, at age 70, still works 12-hour days in his crowded office out back, with enough sports memorabilia on the walls to open his own museum.
Regulars make up a big percentage of Andrian’s customers, so many are aware of his giving and loyalty to the community. They see youth sports teams everywhere through the two towns, with “Alan’s” sweeping across the uniform jerseys.
Outsiders, though, may see the big sign as merely an invitation to come inside and eat now and then, saying nothing about the local restaurateur who studied biology in college before pivoting 180 degrees and opening a business as ingrained in this area as any history-rich ball field still in use.
That’s why Andrian’s niece, Christina Langley, who’s a full-time nurse and may be the heir apparent to her uncle’s business, nominated Andrian for Hometown Hero recognition.
“Alan has been an outstanding member of the Concord area for over 40 years,” Langley wrote in her nomination. “His endless donations to local schools, sports teams, and any other cause is remarkable.”
Andrian donates free sandwiches to people down on their luck, or to organizations like rescue operations whose members might need some refueling during an emergency, or shelters, or anyone, really, who’s hungry.
“When you need to be firm, you’re firm,” Andrian said. “When you need to be a friend, you’re a friend. When you sit down and have a conversation, if you need to help someone, you help them. I’m a firm believer that you get a lot further with honey than you do with vinegar. So that’s basically my philosophy.”
He’s always wanted to help people. He studied zoology and biology in high school on the North Shore in Massachusetts and did the same at the University of New Hampshire. He wanted to be a doctor. A general practitioner.
“Yeah. When I first went to school, I really wanted to become a doctor,” he said.
He drifted elsewhere, first working as a salesman at a car dealership in Lynn, Mass., advancing to general manager. Then he worked at a marina and managed that place, too.
His life, and that of many around here, changed when his sister and brother-in-law, restaurateurs themselves, noticed a little clam shack near the Penacook-Boscawen line being sold by Jim Steenbeke, whose grandparents founded Steenbeke and Sons and built it into one of the state’s largest distributors of building products.
“Adam’s clam Bah,” explained Andrian, in his vintage Boston accent. “I didn’t really have a vision. I just saw an opportunity. It had cabins in the back here that they used to rent, so for the first few years I lived back there. I lived in a cabin.”
Not anymore. He tore the clam bah down and rebuilt it into Alan’s. Since then, he’s expanded the pub, the dining areas and the function room.
He still hasn’t met an area youth sports team he hasn’t liked, meaning “Alan’s” is emblazoned on uniforms everywhere in the Concord region.
His restaurant hosts many of the families who bury loved ones at the nearby State Veterans Cemetery. He sends sandwiches and hot coffee to rescue personnel working on frigid nights and says, “It’s cold to the firemen. Just little things like that brought everybody together.”
He sends soup and food to the Friendly Kitchen. He sends Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings to patients in hospice care. And Andrian is cooking and baking some of this food. In fact, he still arrives at Alan’s each day at 7:30 a.m.
Restaurant manager Dani Bourque is a Penacook native who’s been working at Alan’s for 13 years. She entered Andrian’s office recently and was asked for an opinion on her boss.
Her answer was revealing. His staff speaks its mind, even in front of the boss, creating a humorous climate based on chemistry and comfort.
“He can be a pain in the ass,” Bourque said. “But he’s a good boss. He’s very good to the people, absolutely. But he likes things his way. So it’s his name on the boards, so it should be his way.”
At 70 and continuing to work 50 to 60 hours per week, Andrian thinks of retiring and says he’s financially secure enough to do it. He has no children and never married and hopes Langley, his niece, who already works full-time as a nurse, will take over, somehow fitting that role in with her medical career.
“We’re talking about it and we have yet to formulate a plan that works for my family,” Langley, who has a 5-year-old daughter, said by phone. “But I plan on taking that over.”
He’s not done. Andrian, in business since 1984, remains a big man with a big sign, still the businessman with a silver walrus mustache and silver hair swept to the side, whose affable nature and charitable work, not to mention his food, have elevated his stature in the side-by-side towns.
“Alan has helped those in need for as long as he has been in business,” Langley wrote, “whether they are a friend, employee, or complete stranger.”