Hampton Beach Casino Property on Verge of Sale

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Lupoli Expected to Buy 75%

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- A majority ownership of the landmark Hampton Beach Casino will soon be sold to a businessman credited with helping to revitalize the Riverwalk Properties in Lawrence, Mass., according to one of the casino's owners.

John P. Grandmaison said his family is selling its shares of the property at 169 Ocean Blvd. to Sal Lupoli, the chief executive officer of Lupoli Companies. Grandmaison did not reveal the sales price.

"The T's are not crossed and I's not dotted, but it's more than likely going to happen, and in a sense it has already happened," Grandmaison said Monday.

The iconic property is home to the Casino Ballroom, which opened in 1899 and has been a concert venue for several decades, featuring national-level acts. It is also the location of the Funarama arcade, Whale's Tale restaurant, Casino Fast Food and the Hampton Beach Casino Mall.

Grandmaison family members own 50 percent of the Hampton Beach Casino with John and Joyce Grandmaison each poised to sell their 25 percent stakes to Lupoli.

The Grandmaison family, along with Fred Schaake Sr., Sam Waterhouse and Jim Goodwin, purchased the property in 1976. Grandmaison said the Waterhouse estate also intends to sell its share to Lupoli, while the Schaake family plans to retain its 25 percent ownership of the building.

Fred Schaake Jr., who is general manager of the Casino Ballroom, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the deal.

Attempts to reach Lupoli on Monday were unsuccessful.

"I'm excited (for the future of the property)," Grandmaison said. "All the long-term shareholders are older, so it's difficult to look forward to major improvements there without getting some benefit out of it."

Grandmaison said Lupoli is interested in moving forward and will bring some fresh energy to the property.

"I think it's a win/win for everybody," Grandmaison said. "My family has been involved in the beach a long, long time, so we have great interest in seeing the beach succeed."

Lupoli Companies is the parent company of Sal's Pizza, Mary's Pasta and Sandwiches, Salvatore's Restaurant and Riverwalk.

According to his online biography, Lupoli oversees a company that is the largest manufacturer of fresh pizza in New England. There are 40 Sal's Pizza restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Arizona and Florida, as well as Salvatore's Restaurants in Boston and Lawrence.

Lupoli Companies also owns the Riverwalk Properties: 1.4 million square feet of business property along Interstate 495 and the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence. When Riverwalk Properties was purchased in May 2003, the complex had less than 35 businesses that employed fewer than 300 people. By the end of 2007, Riverwalk Properties had grown to more than 200 companies employing more than 2,000 people.

Tom McGuirk, whose family owns McGuirk's Ocean View Hotel Restaurant & Lounge at Hampton Beach, said he's excited about the sale and what it could mean to the area.

"(Sal Lupoli) was very influential during the rebirth or renaissance of the city of Lawrence," McGuirk said. "If he was to do something similar to the Casino, it would definitely be a win for that area. He invested not only in Lawrence, but storefronts throughout New England."

Chuck Rage, chairman of the Hampton Beach Precinct, said he, too, is excited about the deal.

"I think it's a great thing," Rage said. "What Sal has done is he revitalized the old mills in Lawrence and put a new restaurant in there. So I think any time you get influx of new money, it's a positive, and they (Lupoli Companies) definitely have a good reputation. Also, the Schaakes are still involved and that's great."

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