New Business: Taverne On The Square Opens In Downtown Claremont, New Hampshire

CLAREMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Purchased a short couple months ago by new owners, Mike and Christine Charest, the Taverne on the Square – formerly New Socials Bar and Grill – opened its doors on July 14 and is located in the Oscar Brown Building at the corner of Pleasant Street and Opera House Square in downtown Claremont, New Hampshire.

Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Taverne On The Square

Stemming from the owners' French background, the Taverne on the Square offers delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts, all prepared with fresh ingredients daily and served in a comfortable atmosphere which feels like visiting a traditional French taverne. The previous New Socials establishment had been in business for seven years and the owners, who also own the Revolution Cantina located on The Square in Claremont, recently sold the restaurant to the Carests because they are moving to Florida for personal reasons and to open a second Revolution Cantina restaurant.

Although he has never owned a restaurant, Charest's parents were restaurant owners, therefore he has experienced the business first-hand and understands its demands. Mike and Christine also have (combined) over 50 years of experience in business and management. “Although it was a number of years ago, I grew up in a restaurant as a child and as a professional, financial and business consultant, I have been assisting four clients from a top-level down, manage their restaurants in decision-making moves to increase profitability,” Mike Charest said in a recent Standing Room Only interview.

So how did the Charest's actually come about purchasing and renovating the former New Socials establishment?

“In the seven years that New Socials had been in business, my wife and I entertained clients and really enjoyed the restaurant personally,” Charest said. “Then last year, I retired at 56 and quickly became bored... my wife, Christine is French and my heritage is also French... and after Christine's mother had passed and we returned from the funeral in France, we were talking about her mother's incredible ability to cook.

“One thing then led to another and the idea of our French tavern was born... why not open one? After several initial conversations the possibility became evident that we could buy the restaurant sooner rather than later. Then, in May we entered into a contractual agreement as partners and very soon after, closing as owners.

“This entire transaction took place over a period of approximately seven months wherein I studied the last five years of previous business, then wrote the business plan, marketing plan, developed the financing plan and identified various changes and opportunities to improve the operation and increase revenue.

The Charests were also very fortunate to retain the entire restaurant staff, who also helped in the re-build of Taverne on the Square. "Since we took over the business, we have also added an additional 10 employees to the existing 19 staff members that stayed on board," Mike added. "As you may well imagine, we are no longer bored.”

The completed renovations at the new restaurant included an expansion of the bar area and dining room, replacing a wall with louvre doors as to create more of an open concept and the addition of 16 beer taps of the most popular craft beers. “We certainly cater to lovers of craft beer and dare I say, the selection in our full-service bar rivals any selection in the Connecticut River Valley area,” Charest stated.

Having grown up in Claremont, Mike has a strong knowledge of the area, its demographics and the desires of the city. “We conducted several surveys and got plenty of feedback from residents and local folks, telling us what they would like to see on the menu. Since the previous owners had several dishes that are fabulous and popular we kept those, then added the strongest choices identified through the surveys and other feedback.

“With a French twist, we brought barbeque to the menu including a brisket that is cooked low-and-slow for over 14 hours and is extremely popular. We offer brisket sandwiches and prize-winning burgers that will rival anyone out there, as well as steaks, various salads and an incredible line up of starters and desserts including our award-winning Chocolate Decadence." Other popular menu items include stuffed clams, a delicious rangoon dip, specially breaded chicken tenders, oven-baked flat breads, a soup of the day and more... all with a French-style influence.

Moving forward, there are also plans in the coming months to expand the menu, begin a catering service and to offer theme nights such as a “fondue and martini night” and other evening events for friends to gather and enjoy. Various specials that are already in place include wing specials (fifty-cent wings, six flavors) every Wednesday, a choice of six specialty burgers on Thursday and Saturday is pasta night, where patrons can meet the chef, choose their dish and watch the chef prepare it right in front of them with the ingredients they choose.

Along with these changes, beginning in September the Taverne on the Square will also be open on Sundays from noon to 8:00 p.m., allowing sports fans to enjoy some great food and beer on tap while watching football, baseball and soccer on the big screen.

“We pamper our patrons and also feature wonderful summer outdoor seating. Our well-trained staff spoils our customers and in fact, our new slogan is It's where you want to be!... We are very serious and work hard to make this so.”

The Taverne on the Square is located at 2 Pleasant Street in Claremont, New Hampshire and the phone number is 603.287.4416. To learn more about the Taverne, view the menu or make contact, visit or email