The Call of La Bec Rouge

By Paula Stanca from Romania

Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, July 27, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]

"I enjoy this place because there is always something fun happening at La Bec's and I know all the people that work here and customers that are coming here year round," said customer Bob O'Neill, standing in what the regulars call the Northwestern corner.

He said that he loves the friendly atmosphere in La Bec's and that it provides him the opportunity to socialize with people. "I've made lots of friends in La Bec's from Europe and Asia that come here each year," he said.

O'Neill explained that this ambiance is mostly created by the managers' philosophy of treating everyone as both a friend and a guest of the restaurant. " Desi (the General Manager) is always around to make sure that everybody has a good time, he is a master of ceremony making sure that people have a good time," said O'Neill.

Now in its 15th summer, La Bec Rouge has been known for its affordable prices, three bars on three different floors with live entertainment, its diverse staff and exquisite food.

"La Bec Rouge highlights original food, specialties both affordable and upscale with lots of our fresh New England seafood," said La Bec Rouge chef Nora Hamilton.

Hamilton said that the key to the food served in La Bec Rouge is the kitchen's ability to marry different styles such as Asian flavors with a French undertone combined with different spices to come up with a unique taste.

"Specials definitely blossom since most of the customers want to try them. I have a passion for cooking which is truly expressed in them," she said.

The staff's commitment and the exceptional atmosphere work together in creating a great place to go out. "We want this place to suit everybody, to be a social center for all people. It is a melting pot where people from all kinds of cultures and social strata get together and tie friendships," said owner of La Bec Rouge Tracey Dewhurst. "My mother Sylvia and myself always tried to create a homey feeling by making everyone feel welcome," she said.

Dewhurst explained that this is the reason why the restaurant has three floors uniquely designed to suit everyone's taste.

She said that the restaurant never closes before last call and is always there to welcome everyone at any time. "We are the old reliable friend because we never shut down early and keep the kitchen open until midnight every night," she said.

"Life is a journey and everyone needs to enjoy the ride. La Bec Rouge is always an opportunity to do so," said La Bec Rouge General Manager Daniel Lanio, known as Desi.

Dewhurst said that there are a lot of employees from other establishments on the beach that finish work at late hours who come to La Bec's for a drink before going home.

"Late at night and especially in winter time, La Bec Rouge is like an oasis where people stop by for a drink, watch a game, or play pool and attempt to disconnect themselves from the day to day life," said Dewhurst.

Besides providing the perfect place for customers, La Bee Rouge is also a great opportunity for international students. Each year La Bec's managers hire a lot of international students that look for summer work on the beach." We depend heavily on foreign students from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Byelorussia, Moldova and Poland that come here to work for the summer," said Lanio.

"This tendency of the restaurant to work with internationals is tightly connected to the fact that the owner herself is from Armenian descent and I was born in Cuba," said Lanio. He explained that since the Americans opened their arms to welcome them in the U.S., they should return this favor through welcoming all internationals to work in the restaurant and making sure they spend a good time in the States.

"Additionally our American employees enjoy working with foreigners since they can develop long lasting friendships," said Lanio.

"We all cry when international students leave at the end of the summer," said waitress Becky Greeley who has been working in La Bec's for two years. "I made lots of friends during this time and I always find it interesting to talk to people from other countries since I can learn a lot from their culture," she said.

Greeley enjoys working here because everybody is friendly and Tracey and Desi are considerate and patient with the staff. "La Bec's is like my second family because the atmosphere is very relaxed and the managers always work around me since they know I have kids," she said.

La Bec's Chef Hamilton shares the same feeling. "I've been in the business for 25 years and I've had a lot of experiences but in La Bec Rouge I finally found a place that I can call home because of the feeling of respect that I give and get from the others," she said.

She said that this atmosphere is created as a result of a combination of different factors like ownership, management and the core of people with different nationalities that work here. "I love to work in La Bec's," she said.

Waitress Colleen Cullen also admits that management plays an important part in La Bec's functioning. "Our management is what makes this place special because they insist on teamwork, they are understanding and patient with both customers and employees," she said.

"I enjoy working in La Bec Rouge because of the fun crowd of co-workers who always try to keep a positive attitude and make the customers truly satisfied of the service they receive," she said.

"In my opinion La Bec Rouge is one of the most popular places on the beach because it's open year round and it gives a variety of options to choose from sitting outside/inside, different kinds of music, different bars and dishes. It's the place to go in Hampton Beach," she said.

Indeed customers agreed on that. "The place is fantastic, we like the music, waitresses are awesome in terms of friendliness and promptness, it's our favorite place in Hampton Beach," said Thomas Dick from New Hampshire.

He said that it is a pleasure to sit on the deck, see the beautiful panorama while drinking, eating and listening to good live music.

Customer Leo LoPiano who has been coming here for many years thinks of La Bec Rouge as a very exotic place. "On long hazy days of July, La Bec's feels like the Caribbean," he said.

"It's my first time here and I love it," said customer John Rich from Massachusetts. "The food is excellent, the servers very friendly and I am having a great time in this beautiful place," he said.