The 401 Tavern
by Michael Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, October 26, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
"This is the business we have chosen," Hyman Roth snarled in Godfather II. He, of course, was speaking of the nastiness of the criminal world. Paula and Dan Lanio echo that same phrase. They, however, have far more positive reasons as their motivation. They are proud to be Americans and prouder still to live and work in the seacoast region.
Growing up in Cuba, Dan's childhood was severely interrupted when Fidel Castro marched his forces into Havana. His prospects for living a long, successful life were growing increasingly dim.
"Amazingly, through the combined efforts of the Catholic Church and the U.S. Government, Operation Peter Pan managed to airlift 14,000 children to orphanages in the United States. My brothers and I were on one of those flights."
"I was ten at the time, and it was very confusing for me. I spent some time in Miami, and then I was on to Sioux City, Iowa. Ultimately, I ended up in an orphanage in Rhode Island. About a year later, I was reunited with rest of my family. It was then that we began to establish my New England roots. You might say that I'm close to being a native, but without the accent."
"There were six brothers. All went to college, and four achieved Master's Degrees. I think that's an amazing feat for any family," Dan said, with pride showing in his voice. "I was in college from 1971 to 1975. There, I joined the ROTC. Upon graduation, I became an officer with in the 101st Army Airborne. Later, with a degree in Food and Beverage Management, I went to work in hotels in New York, Tampa, Miami, and Boston."
"When I came to New England, I teamed up with Mark LaRoche, owner of Superior Controls in Seabrook. He was the one who told me that I was born to live in Hampton, so we set out to find a business we could call our own. The timing couldn't have been better. The Widow Fletcher's Tavern was for sale, so we bought it."
"We wanted a new identity and finally settled on the address as our name. Coincidently, 401 happened to be the area code for Rhode Island, so we manage to attract a number of tourists from that state who vacation here. Additionally, we are the largest seller of Rhode Island-produced Narragansett Beer. It all fits together perfectly."
Several years ago, Dan met Paula Stanca when both worked in a beachside restaurant. The attraction was almost immediate, even though Dan's heritage was Cuban and Paula's Romanian.
"We did share things in common. Each of us had come from a Communist country each of us had lost freedoms, and each of us had stood in lines for various necessities. With our backgrounds, and with the kind of success we enjoy today, we feel it is our turn to give. We see what we do as payback, and we're proud to do it," Dan said in earnest.
Paula and Dan both maintain a well-honed can-do spirit.
"We have accomplished a great deal," Paula said. "And with some effort, Dan and I are accomplishing still more." Paula, fluent in Romanian, English, and French has degrees in journalism and political science. She is currently in the process of attaining a degree as a sommelier.
"I wrote investigative pieces for a paper in Romania, but that was proving to be a little too intense," Paula chuckled. "Then, I went to work in the United Nations. I covered meetings for the Security Council. In that capacity, I traveled to Hong Kong to assist with the Equal Opportunity Commission. About that time, I thought it was time to make a major life change so I found my way to coastal New Hampshire. I met Dan, and now I'm realizing all of my dreams."
"Last year, we took the old storage room upstairs in the 401 and turned it into something very special. For me, the Wine Loft is my comfort zone. It is a wonderful room, and the possibilities for it are nearly endless."
"We have just begun 'Tuesday Flight Nights'. On those occasions, we feature the wines from various countries in the world. Our patrons check out where they want to go on a map. They sample some of that country's wines, and then they have a delicious meal from that locale. Tuesdays are becoming very successful, and in November we'll introduce gourmet dining. Now those affairs should be very special indeed. And, yes, it should be mentioned that we have a preservation system for our expensive wines that is truly unique to the seacoast region."
"I find every way I can to be an active part of the community," Dan said. "I am on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce, a board member for Experience Hampton, an active fund-raiser for the Hampton Mounted Police and more. I'm delighted to be a part of the Hampton community, and I want to do everything in my power to make the area in which my wife and I live as great as it can become."
"The Hampton area is amazing. Not many communities can boast dual centers. Portsmouth has 20,000 residents and one town center. Hampton has 18,000 and two business communities . . . two miracle miles! Those of us in the business community recognize that, and we're doing our best to develop concepts mutually beneficial to both aspects of residential and commercial communities."
"Experience Hampton, under the leadership of John Nyhan, is 100% behind the Christmas Parade, coming up on December 3. Our small business community endorses it fully. In terms of fund-raising, we at the 401 have raised over $12,000 in the last two years to benefit the parade. Sure, there is some work involved, but anything worthwhile requires some effort. Ultimately, we just look at our efforts as a labor of love."
"It is difficult for Paula and me not to become emotional when we talk of our love for and pride in this country. For us, and for so many like us, there is no greater place on the planet than the United States. And, in looking for the most wonderful place to live ... well, Hampton is the place we have chosen!"