Couple Sets Aside Plans, Settles Into Restaurant Life
By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Tuesday, October 16, 2001
ready to take your order.
[Photo not in original article.]
HAMPTON — Andy and Susan Piesik had originally planned to relocate here with their two young boys, buy a home and raise a family, thinking that someday, perhaps, they'd open a little restaurant.
But the best laid plans do not always come to pass, and today the couple find themselves with the restaurant but not yet the home.
"My sister-in-law had told us the Seacoast was a great place to live. We came out here and loved it, but then this opportunity came up and we had to jump at it," Susan Piesik said the other day from behind the counter at "The Kitchen At Depot Square" restaurant, formerly Lil's Grille, explaining that the house will now have to wait a few years.
The Piesiks purchased the breakfast/luncheonette this summer, and have attracted a loyal following of locals who visit the restaurant regularly.
Andy, 46, and Susan, 35, run the place, with Andy's sister Debbie Anderson as a silent partner. Andy is the chief cook, bringing years of West Coast experience with him. Piesik worked for seven years in restaurants connected with the Western Hotel chain, and before that at several up scale Orange County, California restaurants, honing his skills in fancy restaurants at Newport Beach, for instance, before deciding to move east.
The Kitchen is their first foray into ownership, and the couple says they've learned a lot in the area of what New Englanders like to eat.
The menu hasn't changed much in the first couple of months that the Piesiks have run the restaurant. "We changed our suppliers, we buy all our breads from Pepperidge Farms now; a little more expensive, but people like the breads. We changed our meats supplier, and we roast fresh turkeys every day, but the menu hasn't changed that much," Andy said.
The couple has found that New Englanders, especially those on the Seacoast, like simple recipes, hearty meals and home cooking.
"The tastes people have here remind me of northern California. They like simple, hearty cooking, especially when the weather gets colder," Andy said, compared to the southern California cooking he is familiar with; food that is made with stronger herbs, more pepper, with off-beat ingredients.
And in the couple's first months here, Andy has learned how to make New England clam chowder.
"It's very light, just clams, fresh cream, potatoes, thyme and a bay leaf, and nothing else," he said, noting that on the West Coast cooks would throw other things in like peppers and bacon, "but not here."
Piesik also makes his own salsa every day, and serves it on a variety of items, including his salsa omelet. But the people remain the first priority, and the locals have responded.
"The people who come in here are so friendly. They're very open and have guided what we serve and how we build the menu," Susan said.
They have changed the hours, and are now open on Mondays but are closed on Wednesdays. The Kitchen is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. "And we serve breakfast all day long on Saturday and Sunday," Susan noted. [The phone number is 926-4229.]
"It was supposed to be the other way around," she added. "We were going to buy the house first and get a little restaurant second, but it just worked out this way. and we're glad we made the choice."