News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
What is your name and the name of your business?
My name is Alexandra Teresa Townsend. You all know me as Lexi. My business is The Corner House! HOUSE ON THE CORNER, HANSON HOUSE, CORNER HOUSE INN, CORNER HOUSE RESTAURANT & BAR are some of the names it has had over the years.
How did you get to Sandwich, NH?
I moved to New Hampshire in 2017 in search of an ideal small town that had a restaurant that was a journey to get to yet a historic gem upon arrival. The Sandwich Vortex is absolutely real. People that never anticipated moving to Sandwich, pass through and suddenly end up buying a home. Small miracles as well as big miracles happen in Sandwich everyday.
What got you started in this profession?
Growing up in upstate NY my family would go to a local restaurant called The Hitchin Post. I would not sit and dine, I would go straight to the kitchen to wash dishes as that was my preference. The staff would check for knives and I would then have at it. I would go to the table when my meal was served though slink back into the kitchen as soon as possible.
I worked for my grandparents at a golf course they owned. I washed dishes, picked rocks, anything that needed to be done, until I was old enough for working papers, then for a local fine dining restaurant. I had the hospitality bug early though I did entertain the idea of being a flight attendant as well as a museum curator.
My end goal was to work for the Four Seasons hotel chain, therefore I selected a Swiss-based hotel and restaurant management school—the International College Of Hospitality Management Cesar Ritz—that was known for placement. They were not accredited in the US as it was a Swiss curriculum—what the Swiss thought we needed to survive running hotels and restaurants in this day and age.
The school has campuses in Australia, Croatia and two in Switzerland as well as the US. I attended the Suffield, Connecticut campus. From there I was the youngest manager ever hired at The Four Seasons Hotel chain. I was the food and beverage manager in Philadelphia. I didn’t know a soul in town. I was there to learn.
Years later I went to The Rittenhouse Hotel as dining room manager, then director of restaurant sales and then I moved to New Hampshire when the city continued to change in an aggressive way, from my perspective.
Tell us about your business. What do you make, do, or offer as a service? We currently serve dinner four nights a week, upstairs, and downstairs. We offer dockside delivery Friday and Saturday, and live music on Fridays in the bar. We are known for our food, cocktails, entertainment, and our vibe!
How did your business get started?
Since 1849 the Corner House has been in service to the town of Sandwich in some form or another. From a boarding house, county inn, laundry to restaurant! Our building is so incredibly unique. The barn used to be a harness shop and the building overall a one story dwelling until pharmacist Dr. Christopher Fellows added a second story as well as the three bay windows that give the Victorian look.
In 1952 the famed Coolidge (Boston) family purchased The Corner House. Judy Coolidge ran the laundry, her egg farm, a luncheonette window and summer dining room while offering rooms as an inn. The previous sign in front of Corner House featured a modified gryphon which was actually Judy’s Mount Holyoke College class project!
In Spring of 1981, Alex Ray of The Common Man and Rex Seley of The Woodshed took over ownership and brought in Don and Jane Brown as innkeepers. Don and Jane later took ownership and turned the Corner House into a destination restaurant.
In Spring of 2018 I purchased and completely renovated the kitchen and behind the bar. I replaced and enlarged the draft beer system, carried on the storytelling and live music nights, adding Trivia to the entertainment.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your work?
I enjoy seeing guests create memories with friends and family. The best memories I have are over food and drink, and that goes for many other people as well. I look to give you the ideal vessel to create those memories. It’s been difficult with a mask on and minimal staff, though we are doing our absolute best to make that happen.
What is the hardest?
The difficulty in getting staff members to travel to the region to work. It’s been a battle for the entire region and now the nation. We have an internal minimum wage of $15 an hour yet that does not yield staff to this region year round.
What happened to your business in this last Covid year?
I weathered the pandemic, thanks to my wonderful patrons. Early on in the pandemic I offered weekly bulk buying of produce, and curbside pick-up of restaurant food on weekends. I had a barbeque pit built in the restaurant parking lot, and offered drive-through Chicken BBQs several times over the summer of 2020. I also offered dockside deliveries on Squam Lake.
Business was down by 62% in 2020. And though I burned my face and right hand accidentally in January 2021, I am happy and thriving! The Corner House is in the strongest position it’s been in in some time.
What are your goals and hopes for the future?
I set one goal at a time and thus far have achieved every single goal set. I hope to win an Americas Classics Award for the Corner House. Sponsored by James Beard Foundation for institutions that are “the nation’s beloved regional restaurants. Distinguished by their timeless appeal, they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.”
What else can you tell us about yourself and your business?
As a youth, I was a member of the Junior Olympic Alpine Ski Team. I tore my left ACL at Labrador Mountain mid slalom race and now I ski recreationally. I love skiing New Hampshire and Vermont.
I have a Chartreux cat named Niobe and a bunny named Bun. As well as the angelfish & snails in the bar! I am a certified pranic healer and am now very much into human energy and healing. I am skilled at past life regression hypnosis & vedic astrology. While previously working for The Common Man, I developed a trauma response, held that with me and had no idea until the pandemic hit. It was at that time I embraced energy medicine much more broadly and got a Bio-Well to be able to show others their energy and health levels. On the restaurant website I offer more information on how you could get your energy levels read.
News & Views
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Meet Our Members
Please enjoy the Sandwich Business Group's 2021 project called Meet Our Members. Read interviews with fascinating people who live here and run businesses, organizations, and engage in other creative pursuits.
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