By Elaine Winn
Atlantic News, Thursday, October 17, 1996
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]
[Atlantic News Photo by Elaine Winn]
HAMPTON BEACH - There's a month-long party going on at The Old Salt, 83 Ocean Blvd., with something special for everyone. Celebrating their 10th year in business, hosts Nancy, Mike, Kathi, and Joe Higgins invite area residents and their guests to join the party and take advantage of their superb bill of fare and congenial, friendly atmosphere.
Some of the prizes and surprises throughout October include raffles every week, special anniversary keepsake mugs, old fashioned root beer in 10th anniversary bottles, anniversary T-shirts, 2 for $10 specials, many 10 cent specials, 15 per cent off for seniors over 65, 10 year-olds eat free (off the children's menu when accompanied by an adult), and every 10th table for dinner receives 10 per cent off. Their 10th anniversary calendar features lots of specials with a Halloween party of Friday, October 31.
Ten years ago, Nancy Higgins was operating a guest house on "J" St. named The Old Salt. Both sons, Mike and Joe, were in the restaurant business and daughter Kathi was graduating from NH College for Restaurant Management. It seemed like a good idea to be in the restaurant business together; Joe as the general manager, Mike as the chef, Kathi as the bar manager.
Over the past decade, the family has grown. Michael's wife, Liz, and Joe's wife, Karen, are managers in the business now, Kathi's husband, Lee Taylor, is a cook; and good friend Ken Fair, who makes the soups, chowders and delicious sauces, is Mike's assistant. The business has grown, too. They now have a mailing list of 700 customers who get a monthly calendar of events. "Each year it gets better," reported Nancy.
The restaurant seats 170 with an ample 73 seats at the bar and an out- side patio which is still open to enjoy these beautiful fall days. Musicians Matt and Howard, who have been entertaining customers for 8 years (6 nights a week in the summer and 3 in the winter), keep the good times rolling. "We have a 'neighborhood bar,'" Nancy explained. "Friday night everyone comes in and everyone knows everyone. Young and old, it doesn't make much difference. And they all enjoy the type of music Matt and Howard play. Old tunes, popular, something like 'Puff the Magic Dragon' for the kids."
The Old Salt is known for its seafood specialties which feature fresh fish and seafood. But everything on the menu is delectable. "Nothing is frozen, pre-made or prepackaged," said Nancy proudly. "And all sauces and soups are made from scratch on the premises."
They serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and children are always welcome (they get balloons on the weekend). It's a great place to celebrate a birthday because the celebrant is treated to an enormous mud pie complete with candle, birthday serenade and a framed photo to take home. There is even a special area where business meetings, small parties or rehearsals can be held in privacy.
The Old Salt appeals to everyone. According to Nancy, "Several groups of senior citizens come in. We love to see them. They have a nice dinner and get to walk along the beach afterward." They were closed last December and January for renovations, but are open year round this year with a full menu available for take-out.
"The meters will be down next week and this time of year there's no waiting for seating," Nancy grinned. "There's plenty of parking and a beautiful walk along the beach after the meal." Come join the party and help the Higgins family celebrate 10 glorious years at The Old Salt.
[Atlantic News Photo by Jason Batchelder]