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Flock to The Nest - Community, Fun, and Great Food in the Heart of Hanover

Jun 14, 2022 04:20PM ● By E.Senteio. Photography By Lars Blackmore.
Few things bring a community together like good food. That was something Amber Boland learned early in life. “I grew up around food. My mom made everything from scratch when we were young, and my favorite jobs were in bakeries and restaurants.” Over the years, her parents and her uncle have owned restaurants. Although Amber went to school for elementary education and conservation biology, which she “did for a while,” she says, “When my children grew up and I had more available time, I thought, okay, now is the time to follow my dreams.”

Building The Nest

Owner Amber Boland.

June will be the one-year anniversary since Amber opened The Nest Kitchen & Café on South Main Street in Hanover. She says it was a difficult undertaking during the pandemic. Yet, when she heard from the  Hanover Improvement Society that there was a vacancy, the idea that the community might enjoy and benefit from a café that made great sandwiches and salads and had an espresso bar and beer on tap helped Amber decide she was up for the challenge. After all, she already had experience and a roadmap from opening and running Blue Sparrow Kitchen, which has been going strong in Norwich, Vermont, since 2018. Since opening The Nest, business has been on the upswing. Word travels fast in a college town when good food is the topic of conversation. But it’s best to be like the early bird because the café serves only breakfast and lunch, Tuesday through Sunday, 8 am to 3 pm. Some of the more popular choices on the menu are the Bacon Chili Avocado breakfast sandwich and the Turkey Bacon Avocado lunch sandwich, but Amber says that if customers give the BBQ Tempeh Sandwich or the Smokey Beet Reuben a try, they may have a new favorite. There are burritos and quesadillas, bagels and wraps, hot or cold sandwiches, Smashburger, and at least four ways to enjoy your avocado toast with an early morning latte or a late afternoon beer.

Expanding The Nest

While the café’s menu is filled with a plethora of options for the carnivore and the herbivore, The Nest offers an even more diverse catering menu. It is entirely customizable, as people opt to stay in and entertain at home. “We’re catering more dinner parties, like 6 to 12 people,” says Amber. “Some people know our other offerings from Blue Sparrow, where we have more prepared foods, so they tell us what they want and for how many people—usually up to about 200—and we work with them to see what’s possible.”

Head barista Tess Holbrook fills orders for espresso.


The Nest café space is also available for individual and smaller corporate events and can comfortably accommodate about 40 people. Still, a variety of sandwiches and beverages are the headliners, so day-hikers can always call ahead and place a café order for a day on the trails. Students and parents can happen by for a made-to-order spontaneous picnic lunch to enjoy on-site or on the green.

Favorite lunch items include a turkey, cheddar, apple sandwich, and a classic Smashburger.


Engaging The Nest

Customers at the bakery counter have to make tough choices.

Whatever The Nest is providing, Amber’s priorities are clear: she wants to bring people together, serve them good food, and have fun doing it. She calls The Nest a “community-oriented café and sandwich shop,” meaning not only is it there for the community, but it is part of the community—on both sides of the counter. Amber hopes people come and enjoy the food and the space and feel they can engage with the other community members who are eating or working there if that’s something they’d enjoy. “At a lot of places, the baristas have their back to you when they’re making drinks, but here, it’s set up like a bar so everyone can see exactly what’s going on and maybe even have a conversation when someone is making their drink or sandwich. Our staff has a strong work ethic and a team culture, and we have fun! I give them the opportunity and encouragement to try new things and contribute, whether it’s new sandwich ideas, specialty drinks, or making things more efficient.”

The community also means sourcing locally whenever possible. Amber can run through a list of local vendors she partners with to bring the best, freshest, and healthiest choices to customers, from local meats and cheeses to comparing a variety of farm-fresh eggs to find “the absolute best.”

Gracie, Hannah, and Amber.

A year ago, Amber was hesitant to spread her wings and attempt this new endeavor, but following her dreams has led her to the center of Hanover and The Nest Kitchen & Café, where eager customers gather around like birds in a nest, beaks raised expectantly waiting to be fed. Amber is happy to oblige because her other dream is that each person has a delicious meal at The Nest and that the entire experience is so enjoyable they’ll tell their friends and come back again and again. 

The Nest Kitchen & Café

57 South Main Street, Suite 101
Hanover, NH
(603) 277-2916

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