By Michelle Tsaltas
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, August 18, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
This week Sally Gray
The Purple Urchin on Hampton Beach is home to the best bartender on the seacoast, Betsy Tatro. Betsy, who lives in Hampton with her husband and 5 dogs, is the most sought after and loved bartenders around [sic]. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights she'll be found working at The Purple Urchin, a restaurant and patio pub located above the arcade entertainment center and Hampton Beach Casino and across from the Hampton Beach Seashell Stage on Ocean Blvd.
Aside from providing alcohol to local residents, regulars and tourists, she also provides entertainment as well. "I love it because we have the view and we have the free music once a week," says Betsy. With local bands performing at the Seashell Stage across the street like The Spectras, Reminisants to big venues playing downstairs at the Casino, the Purple Urchin is always poppin' with good music. It's a good thing for that because Betsy loves to dance. "Customers come in singing and dancing and I dance right next to them," she says. "I can't dance with them though, I don't have any rhythm".
"I found my calling," says Betsy. "I hate to say it but I love entertaining." The only time you won't see her dancing is when a country song comes on. "I can't line dance," she says. Betsy has worked at the Purple Urchin for 13 summers out of the 15 that the restaurant has been open for. The restaurant, owned by Hampton locals Maura and Jake Fleming, is only open during the summer season. Many of the regulars drive up from out of state to enjoy the food, view, and outstanding staff. One regular, Sandy Floey from Salisbury, says "Betsy is the best bartender on the seacoast. I drive up over the bridge from Salisbury to come here ever summer." Floey says, "when you come to the bar, you get to know all the regulars and you become a regular yourself."
Some of Betsy's specialty drinks are The 'Urchintini, the Tidal Wave, and the most popular as she explains, is the Puff The Magic Dragon. Drinks are all chosen and favorited by the staff. "Before the season starts, we make concoctions to see what drinks we'll put on the menu," says owner Maura Fleming. "We call it 'Research and Development Day'." she laughs, "everyone on staff always want to attend."
Betsy, as the waitresses and owner agreed, has her own regulars that come in just to see her. "People call up and ask if Betsy's working tonight," says Maura, the owner. "She is the gem of the Purple Urchin," explains one waitress. One group of regulars that drive every summer from Worcester to eat at the Purple Urchin, said they love the staff and they love Betsy. All four members were happily drinking Tiramisu cocktails and enjoying the music and beautiful sunset view.
Another group of three women were enjoying one of Betsy's special cocktail recipes. Both groups sat away from the bar to avoid the people coming in to watch sports, but both of them still talked to Betsy. It goes to show no matter where in the restaurant she is, she's still a big hit at the Purple Urchin.
Besides bartending in Hampton she also bartends during the weekdays at the Capri, an Italian grille and bar in Salisbury, MA. Betsy came down to the seacoast to start bartending when a fellow Skier asked her to work at the Backstage for him as bartender. Since then she hasn't stopped serving drinks,. "I tried waitressing, but I didn't really like it," she says. Betsy also works during the day at a Ski supply store.
Before she was a bartender she worked as a fourth grade school teacher, which is where she met her husband. "He loves to entertain as well. I found a good match," she says about her husband who she's been married to for 9 years. "We have themed parties like pumpkin carving parties and fish fry parties. It's a lot of fun and we love to entertain." "We always include some special drink," she says.
Living in New Hampshire is perfect for Betsy. "I love to ski. I also have my own garden with vegetables and flowers," she says. Using her homemade vegetables, Betsy is also a good cook for her and her husband aside from being a great bartender at work.
Betsy, although not a seacoast local, was born in Manchester, NH. She attended Plymouth State College before to receive her degree in education. "I just love people and entertaining." Which is probably why she wanted to teach and be around people.
Although she doesn't like the beach she takes her 5 dogs for walks when the tourism dies down the the weather is cooler. "I love living by the beach," she says. Her favorite drink for herself is Rum Punch. "It makes you feel warm and summery," she says.
Working nights as a bartender on Hampton Beach, Betsy gets a lot of different customers. "We get families to regulars to people looking to watch the game." No matter who the person she's guaranteed to put a smile on their face. "It's really exciting now that the Patriots season is coming up," she adds, "that and the Red Sox. This is just a really supportive area for local sports."
One of her favorite pass times for the customers at the Purple Urchin is to read the witticism section of the Seacoast Scene, written by Johnny Mac. "I read them weekly to the bar. Everyone always gets a kick out of them," she says. "Here read them," she says as she pulls a copy from under her register.
Whether it's her jokes, jokes from local papers or her dancing, the customers love it. "Everyone gets a kick out of it," says one waitress in passing. The staff and the customers come from all over to see Betsy. They laugh with her, they smile and as she says, "Me and the regulars, we grow old together. Most of them have been coming here for years." Whether it's just to say hi or to have a drink, everyone should come in and meet this outstanding, genuine bartender!