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Good and Plenty Restaurant: A Barrington Staple Photo Credit: Neil Schonwald

Wayne Picard, owner of the Good and Plenty Restaurant on Route 125 in Barrington, has been in the restaurant business for nearly 50 years. “My dad owned Suzelle’s Restaurant in Somersworth and I started working for him when I was 13,” Picard says. At the time he worked every weekend, doing whatever needed to be done.He recalls once being given shoe polish and told to re-blacken the bottoms of scuffed booths. Eventually, he rose to head cook at Suzelle’s until the restaurant closed its doors in 1991.

Within a few years, Wayne Picard started a new restaurant: Good and Plenty in Barrington. “I was working down the street and I saw a ‘for lease’ sign on the building,” he explains. “I put my van up for hock to borrow money and I borrowed money from my sisters and I leased the building.” That was 27 years ago. The restaurant opened its doors on the day after Thanksgiving in 1993.

The restaurant got its name “Good and Plenty” not from the famous candy of the same name but from his dad, who had visited a restaurant in Amish country by that name. “I liked it,” Picard says. “Good food and plenty of it.That’s what we wanted to do.”

Picard notes that one of the things Good and Plenty is known for is making a lot of its food inhouse from scratch. “We cook our own turkeys, gravies, soups, chowders. We make our own coleslaw. We started with fresh French fries because we didn’t have anywhere to store the frozen ones. We had no walk-in cooler, just a few chest freezers.”Picard explains that when he did put in a walk-in cooler, he tried serving frozen fries. “People let me know right away that they didn’t like it.”

One of the restaurant’s specialties is the prime rib, which is available with breakfast every Friday through Sunday. Another is a New England boiled dinner. While most restaurants only have this local favorite around St. Patrick’s Day, Good and Plenty offers it every Wednesday and Thursday for lunch.

“Breakfast is our busy time,” he notes. “We probably average around 100 meals a day on a slow day. On a weekend in the summer, it can be around 200 to 225, just breakfast and lunch. We always made our money on the weekends during the summer, when there are a lot of transient people coming through.”

Nonetheless, he says, it’s the locals that really have kept him in business.He notes that some local groups, such as the Red Hat Society and ROMEO motorcycle group use the restaurant as a regular meeting place. (ROMEO stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out.)“It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve been in, we try to treat everyone as if it’s their first time and we want them to come back,” Picard says.

When he first opened the restaurant in 1993, Picard notes that there were only 3 restaurants in the 125 area. “It was just us and Phil’s and the Gateway,” he says. At the time, the restaurant was open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week, 363 days a year – every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Good and Plenty is still open 363 days a year, but staffing shortages and the increasing number of restaurants along Route 125 in Barrington caused them to cut their hours from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The number of restaurants along that same strip of Route 125 has grown from three to twelve.“Every new restaurant that comes in takes another little piece of the pie,” Picard says.

Luckily, Picard learned from his dad’s experience that tough economic times can mean the end for even a well-loved local restaurant. Suzelle’s thrived for nearly two decades in Somersworth. In fact, Wayne’s dad and his two brothers even started a new venture: The Firehouse One Restaurant in Dover. But in the late 1980s, hard economic times hit, and people started eating out less. Eventually, Dick’s brother kept the Firehouse One and Dick focused full-time on Suzelle’s. Unfortunately, Suzelle’s still struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, the restaurant was forced to close its doors.

When Picard started Good and Plenty, his dad came to work for him. “He still thought he was in charge,” Picard says, chuckling. “My dad worked for me for 20 years.”

Picard notes that he learned from his dad to be cautious with expenditures. “One of the big things I learned from my father is to do one big project per year and pay cash for it – replacing the septic system, putting in central A/C, putting in a walk-in cooler.”

Over the years, Picard’s focus has been to create a good family atmosphere in his restaurant, offering something for everyone. What is important to Picard and his staff, most of whom have been with him for several years, is to make people feel welcome and to have something for everyone on the menu.One customer describes the menu as ‘comfort food,” which is exactly what Wayne Picard has been striving for since the opening of Good and Plenty in 1993. “Our motto is, ‘Cooking so good you think your mom’s in the kitchen,’” he explains.