New Owner Right Fit for Casino

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, March 16, 2012

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

Longtime owners of the Hampton Beach Casino property are interested in selling their shares to New England restaurant magnate Sal Lupoli.
[Deb Cram Photo]

HAMPTON —--Joyce Grandmaison said that over the years many would-be developers have made offers to buy the Hampton Beach Casino property, even though it was never on the market.

Now that her family is selling its shares of the landmark building at 169 Ocean Blvd., she explained, the family was waiting for the right buyer.

The right buyer, she said Tuesday, was Sal Lupoli, the chief executive officer of Lupoli Companies.

"I had many calls over the years from developers, and for much more money, but all they wanted to do was knock everything down and put up condos," Grandmaison said. Her late husband, Norman Grandmaison, did not want to see that happen and told her "so goes the Casino, so goes Hampton Beach." Grandmaison said Lupoli is committed to revitalizing the Casino, which is what her husband would have wanted. Attempts to reach Lupoli for comment have been unsuccessful.

Grandmaison said the deal is finalized, but she would not disclose the sales price.

According to the Grandmaisons, the sale to Lupoli includes Joyce Grandmaison's 25 percent stake, John P. Grandmaison's 25 percent stake and Sam Waterhouse's 25 percent stake in the building, giving Lupoli 75 percent ownership.

Fred Schaake Sr. plans to retain his 25 percent ownership of the building, according to the Grandmaisons.

Joyce Grandmaison predicted Lupoli will bring new life to the iconic building that opened in 1899 and is home to the Casino Ballroom, which 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, Purple Urchin restaurant, Casino Fast Food and the Hampton Beach Casino Mall.

Norm and Paul Grandmaison — along with Fred Schaake Sr., Sam Waterhouse and Jim Goodwin — purchased the property in 1976. Goodwin was bought out by the other partners more than a decade ago.

Both Norm and Paul died, leaving their shares to family members.

The group was credited with restoring the building to its former glory. But over the years, the building once again started to deteriorate.

"We can not turn around and put the $3 million or $4 million dollars into that building," Joyce Grandmaison said, explaining why now is the time to sell. "We would never receive a return on investment (due to their age of all the partners). That would be a poor business decision for any of us." But Lupoli, she said, is "young, energetic and he's got money." "He's done extremely well, and I truly believe he's the man to do it," Joyce Grandmaison said. "Sal will be doing everything for the good of Hampton Beach." Grandmaison said she introduced all the tenants to Lupoli on Saturday.

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, Mass.

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 fewer 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.

Grandmaison said the recent sale means her family no longer owns any property at Hampton Beach.

In 2006, the Grandmaisons sold the Ashworth by the Sea hotel.

"It's bittersweet, but it's nice to look back and see that our family had a major influence in turning this beach around," Joyce Grandmaison said. "The Ashworth hotel is still the number one premier property at Hampton Beach."

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