Puritan Backroom in New Hampshire just won a prestigious national award

The chicken tender haven earned a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president, stops for ice cream at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant as he campaigns in Manchester N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president, stops for ice cream at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant as he campaigns in Manchester N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. –Elizabeth Frantz / The New York Times

Chicken tenders are finally getting their moment in the spotlight.

On Thursday, the James Beard Foundation announced the six recipients of the 2020 America’s Classics Award, an annual award honoring restaurants that embody the character of their community. One of the six is Puritan Backroom in Manchester, N.H., a restaurant that regularly draws crowds for its famous chicken tenders and ice cream, including its signature mudslide.

After emigrating from Greece in 1906, friends Arthur Pappas and Louis Canotas originally opened the space as Puritan Confectionary Company in 1917. In 1974, their children added a sit-down restaurant, Puritan Backroom, which later expanded to a takeout business and a conference and event center. The restaurant has been a longstanding stop for candidates on the campaign trail, including, most recently, Joe Biden. Its current ownership even has political ties to its current ownership; US Representative Chris Pappas, who represents New Hampshire’s 1st district, is a co-owner.

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Puritan Backroom received some local help announcing its victory from Fox & the Knife chef and James Beard 2018 Best Chef: Northeast winner Karen Akunowicz, who shared some of the history and specialties of the New Hampshire institution on Instagram.

Check out the full list of 2020 America’s Classics Award winners here.

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