Designing a Food Network–worthy destination
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If you need evidence that the Tuckaway Tavern has become a foodie destination, just look at the map. Visitors to the Raymond, New Hampshire, restaurant stick a thumbtack where they’re visiting from until the map is full — and the restaurant’s on its fourth map.
Tuckaway Tavern is the brainchild of Bobby Marcotte, a Tampa, Florida–born but locally raised chef with a passion for high-quality, local ingredients. An appearance on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” helped raise the restaurant’s profile, but Marcotte put himself on the map with a focus on what he considers to be the three elements of a perfect restaurant experience: quality of food, service, and atmosphere.
“We really aim to exceed that bar every single time on all three,” Marcotte says. “But then the quality of our food is over the top. We always buy the best of everything.”
In a town of 9,000 people, the Tuckaway Tavern and Marcotte’s three other restaurants have become economic drivers, sparking new development and other restaurants to feed the hungry tourists traveling from around the world. But city amenities such as natural gas haven’t yet reached the rural community about an hour’s drive north of Boston. Instead, Marcotte relies on propane to provide the high-quality cooking and guest experience his fans have learned to expect.
Grilling with gas
Architects and engineers working on hospitality projects often have to tailor their system specifications to the energy sources available in the local market. For restaurants in rural or small towns like Raymond, propane can be critical for operating a variety of building systems effectively and efficiently. Cooking, of course, is the first feature that comes to mind, and for Marcotte, gas cooking is indispensable. Tuckaway Tavern is attached to a full-scale butcher shop, highlighting the prominence of fresh, quality meat on his menus.
“A big part of what we do is grilling, and our meats that we sell obviously are made for grilling,” Marcotte says. “I think gas cooking is critical, and the best part about gas is precision, as far as I’m concerned. You just don’t get the control with electric or anything else that you do with propane.”
At Hop + Grind — his craft burger and beer concept with locations in Durham, New Hampshire, and Peabody, Massachusetts — the propane-fueled griddles are based on quadrants that Marcotte fine-tunes to individual specifications thanks to propane’s easy controllability. “I would lose a significant amount of my menu without propane,” Marcotte says.
Heating for small-town restaurants
Restaurant comfort is also critical to achieving a top-notch guest experience, and the propane heating in Marcotte’s restaurants assures that guests are never distracted by unreliable heat. “That’s what we’re there to do, is take our customers out of their life and for the hour or two that they spend with us allow them to be comfortable and be taken care of the way they want to be,” he says. “I think that starts with body temperature.”
Propane can also fuel high-performance water heating for restaurants and is especially cost-effective in the New England region, where electricity costs are through the roof. And propane generators ensure restaurants can keep operating even during the winter’s frequent icy cold snaps or severe storms. A generator that was part of the existing lease for one of the Hop + Grind locations was a “big plus” when Marcotte was evaluating properties, he says.
The Food Network often visits small-town communities where local chefs’ heartfelt passion for food elevates the experience to national acclaim. For the designers and operators of these restaurants, propane’s ready availability can help deliver a guest experience worthy of the place becoming the next foodie destination.