Old Salt Owners Rebound

A Winning Team Sticks Together

By Nancy Rineman

Atlantic News, Thursday, July 8, 1999

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]
ALL TOGETHER NOW -- The Higgins family (left to right), Joe Jr., Joe Sr., Nancy and Mike are shown here in their temporary surroundings in the Whale's Tale dining room, located at the north end of the Casino at Hampton Beach.
[Atlantic News Photo by McGee]

HAMPTON BEACH -- With only two weeks to reorganize following the fire which claimed their Ocean Boulevard restaurant on Hampton Beach, the Higgins family has made a new start in new surroundings at the vacant Whale's Tale Restaurant just a few blocks away at the north end of the Casino.

Nancy Higgins, owner of the Old Salt Restaurant — which was destroyed in a fast and furious multiple-alarm fire June 16 -- said the challenge of relocating quickly was compounded by moving into a facility twice as large.

"We're coping," Higgins said, following what she described as a very, very busy Fourth of July weekend. All 87 employees of the Old Salt made the move with the Higgins family to the Whale's Tale. An additional 40 employees were hired, and more are being sought, according to the owner, who spoke highly of the wonderful Irish help she still has in her employ.

Higgins said the lobby of the Whale's Tale was full, with a waiting line, many of whom were regular customers. She said people have come in asking, "Where's the `Salt' people?"

While patrons may not find an exact replica of the Old Salt menu at the Whale's Tale, Higgins said the quality of the food is the same. Many of the same items have remained, while some of the Whale's Tale specials, such as chicken pot pie, are still available.

Higgins, who lived above the restaurant, briefly reflected on the losses endured by her and her family -- sons Joe (general manager of the Old Salt) and Michael (head chef), and her daughter Kathy (bar manager) due to the devastating fire. In addition to recent improvements at the Old Salt, such as air conditioning in the kitchen, Higgins said new stock for the summer season such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, stuffed animals and the like -- all bearing the Old Salt insignia -- were. just a fraction of what was lost in the fire.

"We're managing for the summer, keeping help together, and looking forward to rebuilding," Higgins said, adding that the present plan was to be open at least through the foliage season.

"We're working twice as hard and hopefully we'll make a difference," Higgins said.