By: Paul Briand, Seacoast Online
Judging from social media, a lot of people were surprised at the bang-bang closing announcements of two downtown coffee shops late last month.
But, for two real estate brokers based in Portsmouth, the changes are just part of the normal ebb and flow in the downtown market that they say remains very desirable to commercial and retail enterprises.
“The demand is there in downtown Portsmouth,” said Christian Stallkamp, senior broker with the Boulos Company, a commercial brokerage company at 14 Manchester Square at Pease International Tradeport. “Businesses want to be there, and they’re willing to pay that dollar amount.”
“Leases come up all the time,” added David Choate, executive vice president of Colliers International at 500 Market St. “There’s always that ebb and flow. New tenants come in. Some tenants just move from one location to another for better visibility.”
Social media started to buzz in late December with the announcements that Breaking New Grounds and Profile Coffee Bar were closing.
Breaking New Grounds, located in the heart of Market Square, announced Dec. 28 it was closing for good Jan. 3 in order to sell its building to Tuscan Kitchen, which plans to move its market from its current location on Lafayette Road to the downtown location and add a café.
The owner-operator of The Birch on Elm restaurant plans to open a more relaxed Asian eatery nearly across the street.
Joel Soucy is working to open Noodz at 968 Elm St. this fall. The menu will include Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese street food offerings.
"It's kind of a clash-of-cultures concept," Soucy said.
"The Birch is very involved as our test kitchen," he said last week. "We always planned to birth new concepts out of there."
Unlike the "full, two-hour experience" eating at The Birch at 931 Elm St., customers at Noodz will order at the counter and wait at their table for food to be delivered, he said.
Noodz will be open for lunch and dinner as well as late nights on Friday and Saturdays to capture the post-bar crowd.
The restaurant's Facebook page describes the vibe as "Asian-inspired street food in a fast, upbeat and urban environment."
Noodz is just another example of the expanding restaurant scene in the city.
By: Ryan Lessard, Union Leader Correspondent
Tuscan Brands CEO Joe Faro says he made changes to the Tuscan Village development to expand outdoor entertainment after visiting new developments across the country.
The recently updated plans took a single structure that would have housed a cinema and bowling alley and split it into two buildings. The gap between them will be a courtyard used for outdoor shows such as music concerts, festivals and other forms of family-friendly entertainment. It can also be used as a skating rink with a Christmas tree in the winter.
“The Tuscan Village will program that entertainment as a service to the development,” Faro said.
He said the buildings bordering the courtyard will have restaurants in the upper floors with terraces on which people can eat, drink and watch the show below.
Faro said he thinks it would give people more reason to visit the new downtown space. He got the idea after visiting a number of “aspirational” developments in states including Texas, Ohio and California.
“There’s some interesting things happening,” Faro said.
At the Legacy West development in Dallas, Texas, Faro was particularly awed by a country music concert in an outdoor stage area made of shipping containers with a gravel floor; diners in second- or third-floor restaurants could watch the show.
By: John Koziol, NewHampshire.com
Sweet, but with a little heat, different but familiar, and ultimately delicious, the Bacon Corn Johnny Cakes with Maple Drizzle concocted by Dan Duris has earned the Manchester native $5,000 and the title of Northeast Region winner in the 2018 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest from General Mills.
Chef and co-owner of the Gypsy Café, which he operates on Main Street with help from his wife Kristy, and mother and fellow co-owner Claire Allard, Duris on Aug. 17 was presented a check by General Mills officials who, as part of the contest, also gave $1,000 to a charity of his choice: Jean’s Playhouse.
Automatically entered into the running for the national title, which would mean an additional $20,000 for him and $4,000 more for the playhouse, Duris grew up in the Queen City, which his mother still calls home, and attended the then Plymouth State College to major in business, but ended up in the food industry instead.
He started at the bottom, by peeling potatoes for Scott Rice, the founder of the Woodstock Inn & Brewery, and gradually honed his culinary skills. In April 2006, Duris opened the Gypsy Café, which, he explained, has an eclectic menu featuring food from around the world, albeit “with a New England twist.”
By: Alex LaCasse, Seacoast Online
Residents looking to taste some tropical flavor in the dead of winter or enjoy some cold sushi when it’s hot out will soon be able to sample the tastes of Hawaii at Ohana Kitchen right in town.
Owners Jay and Stacy Krecklow are aiming to open their second Ohana Kitchen location on the Seacoast in late September or early October in the Exeter Commons Plaza at 75 Portsmouth Ave., next to On the Vine Marketplace. The couple currently operates a location in Portsmouth at 800 Islington St., which opened in December 2017.
Jay Krecklow said the restaurant specializes in authentic Hawaiian poké bowls and sushi burritos. Poké is a Hawaiian food traditionally served with raw ahi tuna, Maui onion, green onion, sesame oil and soy sauce. He said the restaurant will offer online pickup and delivery orders, in addition to the 20-seat dining room.
Krecklow said several specialty bowls/burritos and a “no limits” poké or a build-your-own option, containing a rice base, a protein, garnishes including sweet onion, mint leaf and sushi staples like edamame; a sauce, fruit and vegetable toppings, and a crunchy accessory, such as garlic crisps. He said for non-sushi fans, cooked proteins such as baby shrimp and local chicken will be available, in addition to raw fish, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices.
“It’s essentially deconstructed sushi,” he said. “Healthy fast food is hard to come by, but we’re really excited to be able to offer this cuisine.”
By: Michael McCord, NHBR
The ongoing revival at Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton took a fun turn in July when the company held an in-house brewing competition among 10 teams and hosted a recent visit by Gov. Chris Sununu. Smuttynose has moved forward from a financial bottom that forced an auction sale of the company earlier this year, first to Provident Bank and then to Runnymede Investments, a local private equity firm. It’s also a sign that the brewery — named after the third-largest island in the Isles of Shoals and founded in 1994 — was going back to its innovative roots.
“Being the head of a craft brewery like Smuttynose really does ruin you for other career paths,” quipped Richard Lindsay, the new CEO, about the combination of fun, 100-hour weeks and sharing beer with his neighbors. “I had the luxury of inheriting a really experienced team. The top four to five brewers have more than 100 years of experience.”
According to Craft BrewingBusiness.com, New Hampshire has the seventh-highest rate of craft breweries per 100,000 residents in the country (5.6) and Smuttynose has been one of the most prominent in New England. But the company co-founded by Peter Egelston was overleveraged from a $22 million investment to build a new, LEED-certified brewery and restaurant on Towle Farm Road, which opened in 2014.
By: Hadley Barndollar, Seacoast Online
When traveling to a faraway cooking competition, unexpected surprises are never good. That’s why chef David Vargas will bring pots, pans and blenders on his flight to Louisiana this weekend.
As owner and chef of both Vida Cantina and Ore Nell’s BBQ, Vargas will tout his signature charred and smoky flavors at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans Saturday. He’s one of 12 chefs competing from around the country, and he will present his creative, creamy dish to a panel of judges.
The prize if he wins? “A crown and bragging rights,” he laughed.
Vargas began his career in food at his family’s Mexican restaurant, and then in the kitchens of chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier at Arrows and MC Perkins Cove. He chose to stay in New England, and became chef/owner of Portsmouth’s Vida Cantina in 2014. Then, in 2018, he opened Ore Nell’s BBQ on Badger’s Island in Kittery, a Texas-style barbecue eatery.
The well-known chef has been involved in the New Hampshire Community Seafood program for the last few years, which is essentially community-supported agriculture, but with fish. Vargas and his restaurants buy into the shares at the beginning of the season, and receive local fish each week to serve fresh. He’s been a “big supporter” of the program since it began, he said.
When the Louisiana Seafood Association reached out to New Hampshire Community Seafood about a Granite State chef who may want to participate in the competition, they recommended Vargas.
By: Michael Cousineau, Union Leader
McChanges are coming to a McDonald's near you.
Paige Macken ordered vanilla shakes for her two children at the McDonald's on Brown Avenue, but she didn't need to talk with a person.
The Bedford mother used an electronic kiosk that featured pictures and prices.
"It was quick; we could see our order," Macken said during lunch last week.
Then she found out that her food would be delivered to her table. "It's a nice surprise," Macken said while Grace, 12, and Liam, 10, enjoyed lunch.
And if you don't want to leave your house, then six McDonald's restaurants in Greater Manchester recently started offering the option of having your Big Mac delivered to your home or office via Uber Eats.
Many restaurants are upping their game - whether it be with phone apps or delivery. Uber Eats announced last month its first five Manchester restaurants not named McDonald's.
By: Max Sullivan, Seacoast Online
Smuttynose Brewing Company’s experimental branch Smuttlabs is making its return this week with its first new release since the creative line stopped production last year.
Lady Stardust, a New England style IPA named for one of Smuttlabs head brewer Charlie Ireland’s favorite David Bowie songs, will be introduced Saturday at 11 a.m. at the company’s campus at 105 Towle Farm Road for a brewery-exclusive release, sold in four packs of 16-ounce cans. It will be the first of what Smuttlabs hopes will be a monthly series of experimental beers sold at the facility as well as in some exclusive locations, according to Mariah Scanlon, brand manager of Smuttlabs.
Ireland, who has headed Smuttlabs since it launched in 2014, said he was always confident the experimental operation would start making beer again. The company began curtailing new releases in recent years due to financial struggles that led to the sale of Smuttynose, founder Peter Egelston said this year. New CEO Richard Lindsay has said new products would come as part of the brand’s revitalization.
Ireland said he is a music lover and has always equated the creativity that goes into brewing with that of music. He said “Lady Stardust” is one of his favorite songs from the Bowie album “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
By: Jason Schreiber, Union Leader
A local landmark that was once home to the Loaf and Ladle restaurant will open its doors Friday as Sea Dog Brewing Company’s newest location.
The opening of the newly renovated downtown restaurant and brewpub at the corner of High and Water streets comes nearly 10 months after it was originally scheduled to open.
The 220-seat restaurant with 40 seats on a deck overlooking the picturesque Exeter River held a soft opening Wednesday with a full opening planned for Friday at 11 a.m.
Maine-based Sea Dog also has a restaurant in North Conway along with four locations in Maine and three in Florida.
The company began considering plans for an Exeter location in the spring of 2016 after the popular Loaf and Ladle soup and sandwich shop closed its downtown location in 2013 amid financial troubles.
The Exeter restaurant, which will do some brewing on site, features three functional floors and will offer its craft-brewed lineup of beers, full-service dining, bar and event space with lunch, dinner and eventually brunch.