By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 27, 2001
[Photo not in original article]
"We're extremely excited about this new opportunity. It's been a long wait but we're excited to get going again," said family spokesperson Liz Higgins yesterday.
A devastating fire destroyed the Old Salt and several other businesses in June, 1999. Since then the Higgins family has been struggling to rebuild the restaurant. After working extensively with architects and restaurant designers, the family discovered that their original design would be too costly. Due to the huge economic growth in the area, the cost of construction and materials has drastically increased, Higgins wrote in a press release issued Monday.
When downsized plans were nearly completed, the Higgins learned of the availability of Lamie's. Relocating to an existing property made sense economically, and the Higgins discovered that the 18th Century county restaurant and tavern would be the perfect place to recreate the atmosphere that made The Old Salt one of the most popular restaurants at the beach.
Eighty-nine people were employed at The Old Salt when it burned. Last summer the Higgins operated the Whale's Tale at the Hampton Beach Casino, and most of those employees found work there. Higgins said the family intends to run the Whale's Tale again this year, and will employ most of their former workers at either the Whale's Tale or at The Old Salt at Lamie's, or both.
Currently the kitchen at Lamie's is being renovated, and the bar in the former Cat in the Custard Cup is being enlarged. Renovations are also being done in the lounge. Higgins said the restaurant should open within the next few weeks.
The Inn, which consists of 32 colonial-style rooms, has remained open during the sale. The Higgins will also continue to lease office space in the Inn. Two tenants currently lease space in the building, and additional space is for rent, Higgins noted.
The first-floor dining room at Lamie's boasts a working fireplace and large wooden booths. There is an additional function room with a fireplace and room for weddings and functions up to 125 people, as well as additional meeting rooms.
Higgins said the family will retain the name Lamie's.
"The first floor space where The Old Salt will go is actually bigger than the former restaurant," Higgins said. "The atmosphere will be similar, and we'll feature a similar menu with some additions. But we're very excited about re-opening the restaurant. This place already feels like home. And we're looking forward to seeing our former customers."
Higgins added that the family is working with the Hampton Beach Trolley to establish a regular route between the Whale's Tale and The Old Salt for the upcoming season. The lot where the former Old Salt stood, at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and K Street, has been put up for sale.