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Canaan woman opens bakery and cafe with help from her parents

  • The 603 Bakery and Cafe owner Grace Moore, of Canaan, N.H., takes a customer's order over the phone at the Canaan restaurant on March 25, 2019. Moore, who recently turned 18, runs the eatery with her parents working in the kitchen. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The 603 Bakery and Cafe in Canaan, N.H., has been open for over a month along Route 4 and has had a positive response from customers. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ami Gammell, of Canaan, N.H., prepares a sandwich as her daughter Grace Moore, also of Canaan, slices roast beef at The 603 Bakery and Cafe in Canaan, N.H., on March 25, 2019. The pair work together six days a week, over 12 hours a day Monday through Friday and over eight hours on Saturdays. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Caprese sandwich with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and pesto on focaccia, along with homemade chips, is ready to be served for a customer at The 603 Bakery and Cafe in Canaan, N.H., on March 25, 2019. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Mike Rogers, left, and John Dyer, both of Canaan, N.H., eat sandwiches they ordered at The 603 Bakery and Cafe in Canaan on March 25, 2019. Dyer said they work nearby and eat lunch there about three times a week. "It's simple, good lunch food," he said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

When you have a dad willing to put in four pre-dawn hours a day making doughnuts before heading to his day job, a mom who’ll drop what she’s doing and work for you full time and a community clamoring for homemade goodies and sandwiches, it’s not easy to delay your dreams.

Grace Moore knows. She tried. But here she is, at 18, in a ruffled camo apron and cowgirl boots, running Canaan’s new, and perhaps only hot spot, The 603 Bakery and Cafe.

“I would talk about having a bakery someday. I just pushed it away a lot,” said Moore, taking a rare break one afternoon last week at one of the rustic cafe tables she built herself, as the last customers of the day trickled in for coffee or one of the few baked goods left at the front counter. “One day it was right in front of my face ... it’s like when a crush actually likes you back.”

Moore, who attended Lebanon schools before graduating from Plymouth High School (the only school that agreed to let her graduate two years early) in 2017, grew up helping out in the restaurants where her mother, Ami Gammell, worked.

“I learned how to bus tables when I was like 8, and I’ve just loved it ever since,” said Moore, who now lives in Canaan with her parents and younger sister, just a few minutes away from her new business on Route 4.

Like many kids, Moore played restaurant and talked about having her own food business. It was an ambition she never outgrew. As a teenager, Moore started waiting tables in restaurants in Hanover and Lebanon, often working full-time while going to school.

She loved that, too. “Waitressing is a happy adrenaline rush,” she said.

Moore’s affinity for baking goes way back as well. Her great-great-great grandmother reportedly ran a chicken and doughnut shack in Ashland, N.H., creating the recipe her father, Todd Gammell (legally speaking he’s Moore’s step-father, but she calls him “dad”), whips up every morning. And her mother made it her mission to develop the perfect chocolate chip cookie while anticipating Moore’s birth.

Mother and daughter came to love baking together, and one of Moore’s favorite memories is of the day her she and her mom were baking brownies and her mom conspiratorially whispered, “want to put some candy in the brownies?” To this day, they make “garbage brownies” together, tossing in whatever candy suits their mood, and the indulgent treat has already become a favorite at the cafe.

They’re just one of the confections piled high on the counters when the cafe opens at 5 every morning and quickly devoured during the morning rush of town office workers, commuters, firefighters and high school students.

“It’s just really great to have someplace like this to go,” said Allison Piotte, 17, of Enfield. A senior at Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Piotte said she and her friends used to bemoan the lack of a local hangout where they could do homework, enjoy an afternoon snack or coffee and relax together. The 603, which is about five minutes from the high school, has another thing going for it, too.

“It’s surprisingly inexpensive,” Piotte said.

That’s by design, Moore said.

Moore fell in love with Canaan after moving here two years ago, and she quickly noticed that there was no place in town for people to get fresh, locally made food.

“We call it the food desert. There’s really no other options,” she said.

When Moore and her parents found the vacant former Elks Lodge for lease on the heavily traveled Route 4, in the center of town beside the laundromat, it seemed like the perfect place to open a cafe, in spite of its shabby state.

Though she’d been saving money from her waitressing jobs, Moore wasn’t sure she was ready to make the leap. That’s when her parents surprised her by offering to front some of the money to start the business and pushing her to quit her job at a nearby horse farm so she could jump in with both feet.

Together, with help from neighbors and friends, the family spent several months renovating the cafe: painting the walls, pulling up old tile, putting in a commercial kitchen and furnishing the dining area with handmade tables and brightly painted chairs. Next, Moore designed a menu she hoped would appeal to the range of people she met around town — fresh, fun, homey and inexpensive.

Patrons can get a hearty breakfast for under $6, or try a pressed sandwich such as a Cubano, filled with pulled pork, salami, baked ham and Swiss cheese, or a Hillbilly, stuffed with “Momma’s meatloaf,” cheese and “hillbilly sauce,” for $7.95.

In the four weeks since The 603 opened, business has been steady: roughly 200 people visit every day, based on transaction data, Moore said. Moore and her mother have been putting in 15-hour days six days a week, and her sister, 12-year-old Sophia Taylor, eagerly helps out every weekend and whenever she has a day off from school.

Sunny reviews have been stacking up on The 603’s social media pages, and customers keep telling Moore how happy they are to have a cafe in town.

“I’ve never waited on such grateful people,” Moore said. “This place is very much for the people of Canaan.”

Sarah Earle can be reached at searle@vnews.com and 603-727-3268.