According to local lore, saddle salesman Jack Grant was just passing through Durham en route to Boston with his wife Madeleine when the town’s charms inspired him to put down roots and start a small café. Opened in 1916 in the lower portion of the Pettee Block, Grant’s Café catered to local families and students from the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. In 1919, Grant moved the café to Main Street, building a small freestanding restaurant popular for its homemade donuts and pies, which were baked by Madeleine Grant herself.
As UNH grew, so did Grant’s cafe, eventually expanding into a full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as magazines, ice cream, candy and cigarettes. Grant ran the business for 52 years, until 1968, when he sold it to Dick and Annette Young of Dover, who changed the name to Young’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop. Now a century old, the restaurant today is owned by the Youngs’ son Ken and his wife Cathy, who focus on locally grown and sourced foods and sustainable operations practices while honoring the history of a Durham institution and popular gathering place for Durham regulars, students, faculty and staff members and alumni alike.
Originally published in UNH Magazine Winter 2017 Issue