The Old Salt Eating and Drinking Place

Story and Photos by Virginia Hatch

Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, July 27, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]

The General Manager of The Old Salt is Joe Higgins, who is shown here with his mom, Nancy Higgins, who is the founder and matriarch of The Old Salt.
[Photo courtesy of The Old Salt]

The History of The Old Salt: The original Old Salt, meaning "Old Sailor," was a guest house on J Street at Hampton Beach purchased and named by Nancy Higgins in 1976. Nancy and her family had spent many summers at Hampton Beach; and, she decided to settle there permanently.

Not until 1986 was The Corona House, a small restaurant located at 83 Ocean Boulevard, purchased by Nancy and renamed The Old Salt Eating & Drinking Place.

Together, the Higgins family established a successful restaurant known for its great food and comfortable atmosphere. The Higgins family constantly improved their restaurant. There were many changes, including additions to the kitchen, lounge and dining areas. But some things never changed. Mike still bought most of the seafood fresh from local fishermen each day; and, their famous fish fry was still "All-You-Can-Eat". Although the restaurant grew considerably, it still remained a family business.

On June 16, 1999, tragedy struck The Old Salt's family and friends. A fire that started on the stairs of the building next door quickly spread and eventually claimed three buildings and numerous businesses.

Fortunately, no lives were lost; but, it meant an abrupt end to The Old Salt. The family immediately rebounded and opened for business in the Whale's Tale, located in the Hampton Beach Casino Complex, only two weeks later.

On February 21, 2001, the family purchased Lamie's Inn [& Tavern] located in downtown Hampton. Lamie's Inn's rich history is the perfect setting for the new "Old Salt". With much anticipation, the restaurant opened for business on March 28, 2001.

Once again, the family is working together to run Laurie's Inn as well as The Old Salt Eating & Drinking Place. Nancy Higgins, foundress of The Old Salt, had three children: Kathi Taylor, who is in charge of the office, accounts payable and accounts receivable; Michael Higgins, who is the executive chef and kitchen manager, and Joe Higgins, who is the general manager.

The Inn's History: The core of the Lamie's facility is a home that was built in approximately 1740, according to historical records. In 1760, the building was acquired by the Lane family, where it remained for four generations, until 1911. The Lanes involvement with Hampton was extensive and can still be seen and felt today. There is the Lane Memorial Library, built early in this century and added to in 1985 with a donation from a Lane family descendant; and, the Charles H. Lane Fund has benefited the children and churches of Hampton for several decades.

h In 1928, Albert and Madeline Lamie purchased the property and converted it into a public restaurant and tavern. The house, which had faced Exeter Road, was jacked up and rotated 90 degrees to face Lafayette Road. Underneath it were constructed the kitchen and dining facilities, which form the basis for the restaurant and tavern to this day.

The Dunfey family purchased the property in 1954; and, in 1958, added the Inn with its colonial style rooms. Lamie's Inn and Tavern is known today, nationwide and internationally, for its fine New England food, warm hospitality and friendly atmosphere.

The staff of The Old Salt includes: Allison Vandersall, Jessica Ritchie, Lynn Marquis, Tracy Burke, Tiffany Divencenzo, Deborah Chisolm, Robin Cail, and Judy Perkins. [Photo courtesy of The Old Salt]

This reputation has made Lamie's a frequent stop for all types of visitors to New Hampshire and, particularly, the Tavern has become a tradition in the campaigning of nearly every significant Presidential candidate in years past. Lamie's has hosted more than just candidates. For Thanksgiving, in 1963, former President and Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower, along with their son, John, and his family, spent two nights at Lamie's while visiting grandson, David, who was a student at Philips Exeter Academy. A personal note from the President expresses the sentiment of Lamie's visitors for decades: "I cannot tell you how pleased the entire family was with the hospitality and courtesy that they constantly encountered during their stay at Lamie's. All of us are more than grateful..."

Other political figures who have appeared at Lamie's include Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), former Vice President Al Gore, and Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)

The tradition of excellence and quality of service continues.

Function and meeting rooms are available. Small rooms for 10 to 30 will accommodate small business meetings. Large rooms for 80 people will accommodate a wedding. The Eisenhower Room, which is attached to the patio, can utilize the patio.

The menu on the website,,is up-to-date. It is classic, family, American cuisine. A group can eat comfortably with something for everyone: fish, chicken, sirloin steaks, prime rib roast, clambake, vegetable skewers, salads, sandwiches, and soups. The kitchen is open 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (open weekends until midnight) Sunday Brunch Buffet is served 9:30 2 p.m. every Sunday. George Blodgett, pianist, entertains. The Menu is available for takeout at 603-926-8322. Gift certificates can be purchased 24 hours a day at the desk or at 603-926-0330 or 1-800-805-5050 or on the website, or

A Calendar of Events is available on the website,

Today, Lamie's continues as a family-run business. The Higgins family purchased the property as a home for their popular restaurant, The Old Salt, after the original location on Hampton Beach was destroyed by fire. The Old Salt's reputation for quality and warmth is the perfect complement to the Lamie's Inn tradition of excellence. Lamie's is AAA approved. A family run restaurant specializing in fresh local seafood with an extensive steak, sandwich and appetizer menu. In the summer, the Old Salt is one of the most popular spots in Hampton with music every Friday & Saturday night. During the rest of the year, the atmosphere is more relaxing, and the locals return. It's a great time to enjoy the natural beauty of the seacoast!

Directions: From Hampton Beach: Take 101 West to Route 1 North. Go to the set of traffic lights in down-town Hampton. From 95. One mile east of I-95 on Route 1 in the center of Hampton. Take exit 2 to Route 101 toward Hampton. Take the first right, hang right thru the fork in the road. Right onto Route 27. Travel approximately one mile east to the lights in the center of Hampton. The Old Salt will be on your left. The Old Salt and Lamie's is less than an hour from Boston and Logan International Airport; and less than an hour from New Hampshire's ski resorts. Other nearby historic New England towns include Portsmouth & Exeter, NH, Kittery, Me and Newburyport, MA. Whatever time of year you visit, you'll always find a great meal (generous portions and affordable prices)! Try the award-winning clam chowder or lobster sea-food stew. Always fresh steamers, lobsters, fried clams, native shrimp and daily blackboard specials. All-you-can-eat Fish Fry on Fridays is a customer favorite as is a 14 ounce Prime Rib Dinner every Saturday night. The staff is the friendliest around. Please contact The Old Salt or Lamie's Inn for help with any special requests or accommodations. Reservations are always accepted.

{Photo left: The Executive Chef of The Old Salt is Michael Higgins.}
[Photo courtesy of The Old Salt]