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Obama poster moved to easel at Robie's in Hooksett, sidesteps order it be taken down

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 02. 2018 9:09AM
Dottie Tagalakis of Manchester works out details of a catering event at Roots Cafe inside Robies' Country Store as former President Obama looks on. (Mark Hayward/Union Leader)

Roots owner Amber Enright posed last week at Robie’s in Hooksett with the Obama “Hope” poster in the location where she originally hung it. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT — Former President Obama is back at Robie’s Country Store — on an easel.

After being ordered to take down the 2008 Obama “Hope” campaign poster, owners of the cafe-style restaurant inside Robie’s set it on an easel, just a few feet from the wall where it had been hanging.

Last Saturday, the New Hampshire Union Leader detailed the conflict between the preservation trust that owns the Robie’s Country Store building and the couple who leases the space for their restaurant, Roots Cafe.

Trustees of the Robie’s Country Store Historic Preservation Corp. had told Josh and Amber Enright to remove the poster because it violates the lease, which requires that the trust approve any changes to the exterior and interior of the building, Amber Enright said.

Putting the poster on the easel complies with the lease, she said.

“It’s not a change to the building if it’s not hanging on anything,” said Amber Enright. Roots re-opened on Thursday after the Enrights took a few days off for school vacation, they said.

Enright said the publicity about the conflict drew scores of customers to the restaurant over the weekend. People came in with Obama campaign swag and took selfies in front of the poster.

A member of the trust wouldn’t discuss the matter. “The board has decided at this point to remain silent on this, or no comment if you will,” said Todd Rainier, Hooksett’s town clerk and a member of the private nonprofit trust.

Tom Donovan, the senior assistant attorney general in charge of Charitable Trusts, said someone from Robie’s recently spoke to his office about the issue, but he would provide no further details.

The Enrights have said that the trust has been pestering them for months about the poster and wanted it removed for political reasons.

As further evidence, she said the trust ordered the removal of a campaign poster for Jerry Brown, the current governor of California who ran for President in 1976, 1980 and 1996. “Stop Seabrook ... No Nukes ... Brown for President,” the poster reads.

Enright said she didn’t hang the Brown poster, so she took it down.

She said she plans to speak to a lawyer, but hasn’t done so yet.

The Robie family operated the country store for four generations, and it became a whistlestop for presidential candidates, mostly Republican. Posters inside the restaurant include McCain, Goldwater, Reagan and two generations of Romneys. Most of the Democratic posters are in the back.

Lloyd Robie, one of the last owners of the store, was a member of the Republican National Committee, according to a blog post about Robies.

The easel and poster can’t be seen from the main dining room. They are in the corner of an alcove. A petition that reads “We want Hope” has several pages of signatures.

Atkinson resident Jonathan Biros had just finished a late morning lunch with his children, Brodie, 10, and Alex, 15. He thinks the poster should stay.

“I didn’t vote for President Obama, but I don’t have any problem seeing his poster,” Biros said.

But about a half-mile away at town hall, Hooksett native Ed Groves Sr. said the poster is offensive to a lot of people, and he’s going to wear blinders when he goes in for takeout.

He said the Enrights should put up a poster of President Trump.

“If you’re going to piss half the town off,” Groves said, “you might as well piss off the other half.”

Politics Food Hooksett

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