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Late soldier's mom says of opening diner: 'Finally our dream has come true'

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2018 9:36PM
Andrea Tierney, left, and Mickey McDermot opened their new Epping restaurant called Ryan's Place on Monday. It's named in memory of McDermot's son, Ryan, who served in the Army. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Buttons with a picture of Army Spc. Ryan McDermot are being worn by workers at the new Ryan's Place in Epping. (Jason Schreiber)

After many years of working for others in the restaurant business, Andrea Tierney and Mickey McDermot teamed up to open their own diner in Epping, but it’s more than just a place for down-home cooking and chit chat with local folks.

They named their new restaurant Ryan’s Place in memory of McDermot’s 26-year-old son — an Army specialist who died unexpectedly on Dec. 21, 2013 at Fort Hood after falling ill.

The sudden death came after a tour in Afghanistan and cut short Ryan’s dreams of a long career in the military, but his memory will now live on at the restaurant at 114 Calef Highway (Route 125), formerly known as Pam’s Family Restaurant.

At Ryan’s Place, the wait staff and kitchen crew wear camouflage shirts and memorial buttons with a picture of Ryan.

The logo on the Ryan’s Place menu includes stars and two Black Hawk helicopters. They’re the choppers he flew in while serving with Charlie Company 2nd Battalion 227th Aviation Regiment at Fort Hood in Texas.

Ryan grew up in Hampton and graduated from Winnacunnet High School in 2005. He enlisted in the Army in 2010 and served for 3 1/2 years until his death.

He died just weeks before he was scheduled to return to Afghanistan.

“He really, really, really wanted to do it and he did well. He loved the Army,” his mother said.

Tierney and McDermot bought the restaurant in late April after spending about a year searching. Tierney suggested the name Ryan’s Place.

As a young teen, Ryan bused tables and washed dishes at Bessie’s Lunch in Brentwood when his mom worked there. Tierney and some of the restaurant’s other employees also once worked together at Bessie’s.

Ryan often told his mother that he planned to retire early and take care of her. They were going to travel the world.

“Unfortunately this happened, but when you think about it he is taking care of me. I know he’s very proud looking down at all the work that we’ve done and as fast as we’ve done it,” McDermot said.

Opening morning last Monday was emotional for McDermot, who remembered her son and reflected on owning a restaurant with Tierney — a dream they’ve had for 20 years.

“Finally our dream has come true because of my son,” she said.

The first guests who arrived were asked to sign a wooden R. Those guests will receive a free breakfast when Ryan’s Place, which serves breakfast and lunch, celebrates its one-year anniversary next year.

The restaurant menu includes Ryan’s stuffed French toast and “Ryan’s Comfort Food,” which features dishes like American chop suey on Wednesday, shepherd’s pie on Thursday, macaroni and cheese on Friday, and beans and hot dogs on Saturday.

Military customers receive a 10 percent discount.

“Today has been like one big family reunion with all the customers coming in. There were a ton of people that we know,” Tierney said.

Tierney said the restaurant plans to hold an official grand opening in about a month that will include an Army ROTC step dance team and other military personnel.

“We’re going to have a big military honor and salute for Ryan,” she said.

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