By Max Sullivan
Hampton Union, May 8, 2015
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — Some traditions are meant to stay. That's the case with Farr's Famous Chicken, a Hampton Beach staple of more than 30 years.
The restaurant is set to re-open Friday, May 8 at its original Ashworth Avenue location after being gone for one season.
Farr's, known for its "famous" pressure cooked chicken, Jo Jo potato wedges, beans and other barbecue classics, is returning thanks to new owners Judy and Paul Conway.
Judy Conway's brother-in-law, Terry Sullivan, bought Farr's in the 1980s from original owner Henry Farr and successfully ran it with his wife, Laurie Sullivan. Terry Sullivan died of cancer in 2011.
"There are a lot of emotions," Judy Conway said.
Sullivan was cherished by the beach community. Bobby Preston Jr., of Preston Real Estate, called him "a special guy" and a "loss to the beach" when he died four years ago.
Bob Houle of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce called him "the hardest working guy I ever met on Hampton Beach."
Farr's was almost lost after Terry Sullivan's passing. The business changed hands and was reopened last summer as Lilly's Diner. Lilly's failed to take off, leaving the space vacant this winter.
The Conways were approached by Laurie Sullivan about reopening Farr's. Conway had experience managing restaurants, including the Whale's Tale at Hampton Beach for 15 years. She was excited by the idea of finally owning her own restaurant. She said it was important to carry on Sullivan's tradition. The Conways officially signed the lease earlier this year and got to work.
Judy Conway said Sullivan was like a big brother to her, always "so supportive." She is happy to bring his restaurant back to life.
"I've never been so excited in my entire life,” Conway said. “I'm just so excited to do it for myself and my family."
Little will have changed from the last time Farr's was open. The recipes are all the same, but now Farr's will offer breakfast and outdoor seating.
"We're just bringing back Farr's the way it was," Paul Conway said. "The way people remember it from the Henry Farr's Famous Chicken to the Terry Sullivan years."
Friends of Sullivan are glad to see Farr's return.
Jimmy Trainor, who owns the Boardwalk Inn & Cafe, said he was close with Sullivan. The two met in 1979 when Trainor opened his first business at Hampton Beach. He said Sullivan took him "under his wing."
Seeing Farr's return brings up nostalgic feelings, he said.
Business owners must be open to change, Trainor said, but some traditions should never go away. He said Farr's is "absolutely, 100 percent" one of those traditions.
In addition to a close friendship, Trainor said he enjoyed Sullivan's barbecue ribs.
"Farr's was kind of an institution on the beach. You knew what you were getting," Trainor said.
Conway recently had a dream in which she spoke to Sullivan, she said. Her brother-in-law said he was happy they were bringing Farr's back to the beach.
Conway took it as a sign, and she believes her father, who died in 2012 and was also close to Sullivan, feels the same way.
"(Sullivan) is really happy," Conway said. "I really think that Terry and my dad are completely behind us making this happen."