Lil's Grille Closing Shop After Five Years

By Ian Nadeau, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Thursday, July 26, 2001

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

LAST CALL -- Lil's Grill owners Lil and David Hammarstrom are leaving Downtown Hampton after serving up fine food for five years to make way for the new Kitchen at Depot Square
[Atlantic News Photo by Ian Nadeau]

HAMPTON -- The Seacoast area will soon be losing one of its most beloved treasures forever. By the end of the month, Lil's Grille will be no more.

The local gem of a diner will be closing shop after five wonderful years at 20 Depot Square in the heart of Hampton.

For owners Lil and David Hammarstrom, the break is long overdue. "We've been in this for such a long time that we just need a rest," reveals David who served as both co-owner and short order cook. "It's a young man's game, and we're not twenty anymore."

His wife Lil, who also pulled double duty as both waitress and co-owner, contends that it was simply time to slow down. "I'll definitely miss the people," she says. "What I won't miss is the stress."

While the vacation is certainly welcome, it is also most definitely bittersweet.

"The restaurant becomes like a family, its tough to leave," Lil says.

"There's a lot of people we'll miss. But, we still live in the area, so hopefully we'll still see them but in a more relaxed environment."

When confronted with the possibilities in their immediate future, the couple appears positively delighted. "We're going to take about a month off to wind down," proclaims David excitedly.

"We've got to decide what we want to be when we grow up," jokes Lil. After taking some much needed relaxation time, the couple plans to spend more time attending weddings, graduations and other events that conflicted with their old work schedule.

"We've got two grandchildren out on the West Coast that we don't get to see that often," says Lil, "so it will be nice to be able to spend more time with them."

The couple admits that while they will relish the time off, it probably won't be long before they're back in the restaurant business in some capacity. Lil, Who's been involved in this line of work for 39 years, believes that she will most likely end up waiting tables a couple days a week. "I like the people, I like the pace and I like being active," she explains.

David clearly enjoys the occupation as well. "I like the action involved in short-order cooking," he states. "When you've got your own restaurant though you can't control the amount of business you're going to have. It will be nice to have more control over how much and how hard we work."

As of August 1, the location formerly occupied by Lil's Grille will belong to new owner Andy Piesik, who intends to change the name of the restaurant to The Kitchen in Depot Square.

"We wish Andy and the new crew all the luck in the world," says David. "We imagine they'll be very successful -- they've got a great location."

The Kitchen in Depot Square may benefit from all that luck -- they've got big shoes to fill.