CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Lisa Taylor and Jay Corliss will tell you they grew up at Beefside Seafood on Manchester Street in Concord.
And in many ways, they did.
The two started working at the restaurant 30 years ago, the day after their graduations from Concord High School, for Taylor, and Merrimack Valley High School for Corliss. Taylor was a waitress, and Corliss a cook.
“After we started here, we never wanted to leave,” Taylor said Thursday, in between ringing up orders at the cash register out front. “This place is our home.”
And as of Jan. 1, it’s also their business. Taylor and Corliss are now co-owners of Beefside.
Billy and Susan Ray, the restaurant’s founders and owners for more than 40 years, sold their loyal employees the business so they could retire.
Being a new owner has meant a lot of long days for Taylor. She said she’d been there 16 hours a day helping out the staff, filing out paperwork and planning new specials.
She said being an owner has made the work even more rewarding than it was before.
“I used to love coming here every day, but now I feel it on another level,” she said.
Taylor said it still doesn’t feel real that she owns Beefside. For the last 20 years or so, she’s been a manager there. She said although she knows she’s worked hard through the years at Beefside, she’ll never feel entitled to it.
“We are just so, so humbled,” she said. “I can’t say that enough. This is their restaurant. They put in the work for years.”
Beefside is – and always will be – the Rays’ restaurant, Taylor said.
Taylor and Corliss both said it’s important to them that the spirit of what the Rays created stays the same.
“We don’t plan on changing anything,” Taylor said. “Why would you change something that works?”
Taylor said their menu – which includes their famous roast beef sandwiches – will be staying exactly how it is. As will the restaurant’s decor and its set-up. Photos of the Rays’ dog, Tucker, will still be displayed throughout the restaurant.
The staff, many of whom have worked at Beefside for decades, will all be staying.
“We have a manager that has been here for 38 years, Bobby, and he had the best analogy for it,” Taylor said. “He said, ‘We’re all a spoke in the wheel.’ And that’s so true.”
“We are all part of a big team,” Taylor added. “Beefside has been a staple in this community for many years. We are very, very proud of how everything is run here. We are proud of who we worked for, Billy and Sue. They are like parents to us. They were great role models for all of us and we want to keep running this restaurant in their honor.”
She said they didn’t make a major announcement about the change in ownership out of respect for the Rays. Taylor said that somehow customers have found out anyway.
“I don’t know how a lot of people have found out – they just have,” she said. “People keep coming up to me and congratulating me. People have been really nice about it.”
She said she’s been thinking a lot about Billy Ray in her first few weeks as an owner. One piece of advice he gave her sticks out in her mind.
“He said, ‘If we take good care of our restaurant, our restaurant will take good care of us.’ I firmly believe that.”