Casino Mall gets makeover at Hampton Beach

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Owner Sal Lupoli to add new restaurant, family activities

By Nick B. Reid

Hampton Union, May 10, 2013

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

Casino mall entrance, 2013HAMPTON — The Hampton Beach Casino Mall is ready to open this weekend, with some new attractions coming, a fresh coat of paint and returning favorites. Shop workers were bustling around Wednesday putting the finishing touches on their stations in preparation for a summer-like Friday.

"It'll look totally different by the weekend," said Maureen Ayles, the mall's office manager. Ayles said many of the mall's tenants have been coming back for more than 30 years, but there will be some new faces this season.

The biggest news is that Sal Lupoli, the CEO of Lupoli Companies and the man behind Sal's Pizza, a New England-based restaurant with more than 30 locations, is going to be taking over the space formerly occupied by The Whale's Tale restaurant.

Lupoli became the majority stakeholder in the Casino property last year and is expected to breathe new life into the Hampton Beach community. He's gained the reputation of a businessman with an eye for revitalization after he bought the Riverwalk Properties in Lawrence, Mass., in 2003 — at that time, it consisted of 35 businesses and about 300 employees — and in less than five years grew the development to more than 200 companies employing more than 2,000 people, according to Riverwalk's website.

Among the Riverwalk Properties overlooking the Merrimack River is Salvatore's Restaurant, called "Sal's crown jewel," with its 400-seat function facility and conference center.

The details of Lupoli's plan for the restaurant on Hampton Beach are unknown, since a meeting in which he was supposed to meet with mall tenants and announce his plans was canceled Thursday. It's expected to be rescheduled later this month.

Also fairly new is the Coffee Cann Cafe, which took the place of the old Dunkin Donuts in the mall. The Cann family first opened its second location — the first was a part of the Riverwalk Properties — in August, according to Ayles, so it's first full season will begin soon.

Other businesses may be familiar but popping up in a new location, like the Rock Palace, a music memorabilia store, which is moving to the front of the ball next to the Casino Ballroom concert venue.

"It's just a perfect fit next to the Ballroom," Ayles said.

Kiddieland, which was a children-oriented play room on the top floor of the mall, has also changed its face. It's being called the Family Fun Center this year and will attempt to draw more of an all-ages crowd than it has before. It has carnival games, one of which offers players a $100 prize, token-operated slot machines, 36 seats for bingo, miniature golf, slot cars, and other games focused on young children. And you can't even walk up the stairs without winning a prize, since every entrant will get a chance to spin the prize wheel, netting players anything from a temporary tattoo to a $10 bill.

"Just come up the stairs. You're going to win," said Don Miller, the Family Fun Center manager.

Ayles said the mall is running a promotion in June that seeks to draw out residents who haven't been to the mall in a while, so they can check out all the new features.

"So many times I hear people uptown say, 'I haven't been to the beach in years.' Well, look at this," Ayles said, gesturing to the freshly stained boardwalk and new development.

The Keep It Local — Go Coastal promotion runs throughout June and includes a voucher for $2 off parking and a coupon book with discounts to many Casino businesses that can be picked up at the Casino Complex.

"We're trying to reacquaint everyone with the property," Ayles said.

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