Pembroke City Limits: Creating a community space for music, art, good food and good vibes

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From left, Kelley-Sue LeBlanc, Eric Klesper and Rob Azevedo, ready to bring you something completely different when they open the doors of Pembroke City Limits. Photo/Carol Robidoux

PEMBROKE, NH – There are few certainties in this world: The sun will rise, and we’ll all be taxed. 

And for those familiar with the entertainment scene in southern New Hampshire, you can also guarantee that Rob Azevedo—the host of 95.3 FM’s “Granite State of Mind” and now, entrepreneur—will find a new way to promote local artists and musicians. 

He’s undertaken his most ambitious venture to date.

With business partner Eric Klesper, of New Boston, who will handle the books and business management—as well as working some bartending shifts— and the culinary talents of Kelley-Sue LeBlanc (aka KSL) owner of The Sleazy Vegan catering and food truck, Azevedo is opening Pembroke City Limits, a restaurant and tavern in the historic mills of Suncook Village.

While Pembroke City Limits’ grand opening date has yet to be solidified, Azevedo insists it will happen by June 1, with a soft opening over Memorial Day weekend.  

The idea for a restaurant found its origins when Azevedo started Pembroke City Limits, a makeshift venue he established for musicians to perform live in out of his 19th Century barn next to his home in Pembroke, after he and his family moved there from Manchester three years ago.

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How – and where – it started… Rob Azevedo met the demand for music in his barn-turned-community arts space, Pembroke City Limits. But he found the demand was too high, so he’s taking it to the next level with a dedicated space on Pembroke’s Main Street.  File Photo/Carol Robidoux

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How it’s going… Eric Cruson, left, of Prime Light and Power confabs with Rob Azevedo and Eric Klesper standing in front of what will soon be transformed into an 8-tap bar, with a space in the rear for Kelley-Sue LeBlanc’s Sleazy Vegan kitchen. Photo/Carol Robidoux

In that rustic setting, Azevedo welcomed local musicians from his radio program, literally, into his home to play live music for friends and guests while recording for “Granite State of Mind.”  

It occurred to him one night as he sat outside looking at 30 vehicles parked on his grass that maybe there was more than a passing demand for such a place – but a real need for a community space where the arts could be celebrated.

To Azevedo, finding a commercial venue was the next logical step so he started looking into spaces to rent in Suncook Village where other business ventures are concurrently rumbling, such as additions to the Pembroke Pines Country Club and Brady-Sullivans’ nearby construction of 150 new apartments known as 25 Canal.

Both Klesper and Azevedo, along with other business owners, believe Pembroke, located between Manchester and Concord, has the potential become a hot spot. “[The other businesses] did the market research. We’re just following their lead,” said Klesper. “But we have our own thing going on here.” 

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Rob Azevedo shows off the blueprints for the layout of his music and arts venue, Pembroke City Limits, to open softly for family and friends on Memorial Day weekend. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Pembroke City Limits also will be a natural extension of the culture Azevedo has created in the barn, but in order to open the restaurant—serving wine, beer and food—he had to procure the necessary permits and licenses while hopping through the legal hoops with the town of Pembroke, where Azevedo said he has found plenty of support and assistance. He has also hired all Pembroke-based contractors and workers to gut and renovate the space, which was formerly an antique store.

“The town [of Pembroke] has been amazing,” Azevedo said. 

However, the food menu remained a missing piece for Azevedo, who admits he has limited culinary experience. 

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Rob Azevedo explains this area, across from the stage, will have tables and a church pew, and a place for local art on the brick walls. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Rob Azevedo is keeping it local – from the construction crew down to the hand-carved sign by Dion DeCarli Woodworking.

Enter The Sleazy Vegan, the award-winning food truck and catering business founded by LeBlanc in Manchester in 2022, which continues to baffle carnivores with their plant-based alternatives.

LeBlanc said that half of the menu will spin the heads of meat-eaters with open minds and the other half will dazzle those familiar with the vegan diet.
“When it comes to plant-based alternatives, things have come a long way. I challenge you to know which one is vegan,” she said. “[The menu] will be an invitation to the everyday person who can be introduced to a familiar food but in a plant-based alternative that is better for them.”
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From left, Kelley-Sue LeBlanc, Eric Klesper and Rob Azevedo manifested their mutual dream of creating the kind of place they all would like to hang out – a music and arts venue with attitude, where the beer is a tap away, the food is delicious and your friends, close at hand. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Additionally, Azevedo is inviting local musicians for monthly residencies. However, with residential apartments upstairs from the restaurant, everything will remain low and acoustic in consideration of the neighbors.

“We’re going for a vibe where it’s not a pound-and-drink bar,” said Azevedo. “We’re trying to enhance artistry.”

Always thinking outside the box, Azevedo doesn’t want to limit Pembroke City Limits to “limit” itself exclusively to music. He said he also plans to host authors and poets, as well as workshops for community members interested in learning more about the arts—culinary, literary, musical, visual, theatrical. 

“We want to create a vibe where everyone is comfortable here,” Azevedo said. “We’re opening the doors to place where people will feel like it’s theirs to utilize.”


Pembroke City Limits is located at 134 Main St. in Pembroke. It will be open Wednesday to Friday, 4-10 p.m., Saturday from 2-10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Phone: 603-264-1757; email: pembrokecitylimits@gmail.com

[You can follow Pembroke City Limits on Facebook for news and updates.]


 

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About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com