By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, May 9, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Sal Lupoli, owner of the Hampton Beach Casino complex,
left, explains his vision for the future to Mitch Keamy Jr.,
president/chief executive officer of TEC and N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan
prior to TEC's ribbon cutting Thursday. Lupoli has invested about
$700,000 and TEC is the first year-round business in the complex.
[Deb Cram photo]
HAMPTON — Hampton Beach Casino owner Sal Lupoli hopes a wave of new businesses and changes in the heart of the beach this year will carry the area into a longer tourism season.
Four new shops, three new restaurants, a new charity poker room, two restaurant renovations, a revamped Casino mall, a new arcade, an expanded Hampton Family Fun Center, and a major renovation to the water slide are among the Casino complex changes that will be unveiled this season as part of a roughly "$500,000 to $700,000" investment, according to Lupoli.
The key change, though, is the addition of engineering firm TEC in a new office on the back of the complex. TEC is Hampton Beach's first year-round non-hospitality business, which Lupoli said is a "huge step" for extending the beach season.
"I feel very passionately that in order to create a longer season at the beach, people must be more willing to stay up in the area for a piece of time," Lupoli said. "The thing you have to do is create jobs. If you can create jobs year-round, people will stay up here."
Extending the season was the overall goal when Lupoli, owner of the Sal's Pizza chain and the man behind the Riverwalk rebirth in Lawrence, Mass., purchased the Casino complex in 2012. Fast forward two years and well over $1 million worth of investments later, Lupoli believes the foundation has been set for that work.
"We're really excited about it," said Lupoli, adding that this year's upgrades are the most dramatic to date since he took over. "If people are here, other ancillary businesses will come here to support them. We're looking to bring sustainable jobs here so people conduct business so the bars and restaurants can continue to thrive."
Most of the changes are the result of reconfiguring and finding space within the Casino complex, which will fully reopen on or before Memorial Day weekend, for new shops and vendors. Three longtime businesses have been replaced, though.
Farr's Famous Beach Shack, located at the corner of Ashworth Avenue and C Street, will become Lilly's, a diner.
Ben's Beach Supply, located at 189 Ocean Blvd., will become Fascination Arcade.
The Whale's Tale, a restaurant at the front of the Casino complex, has been eliminated and renovated into four new storefronts. Three of the four spaces have already been filled by a clothing store, a cigar parlor, and Lupo's, which is a fish and fried food/sandwich shop that has no relation to the seafood restaurant that used to be located at 595 Ocean Blvd.
The fourth space doesn't yet have a tenant, according to Lupoli. The restaurant's bar area has been turned into the charity poker room.
Lupoli said the Purple Urchin and Cascade Cafe were also renovated as part of the changes, and $300,000 alone went into funding new "state-of-the-art" video games and entertainment for the Hampton Family Fun Center.
Lupoli said renovations will continue to be made to the Casino "year by year" as part of the still in-progress master plan for the property. He said a long-awaited overhaul to the facility's facade is also in the works, although he said exterior changes won't be made until the next offseason or possibly the year after.
"Right now, we're in the process of looking over plans as we speak," Lupoli said. "We plan on sitting down with local officials by the end of the year to help finalize the master plan or doing the master plan in stages."
Lupoli said part of those master plan discussions will also revolve on how he can work with local officials to allow him to purchase all of the businesses on the block that includes the water slide and McDonald's.
Lupoli doesn't own all of the businesses on that block, although he believes that property "can be special" because it, along with the adjacent Casino complex, is one of the "most unique pieces of real estate in New Hampshire."
Plans for any changes for that block haven't yet been drafted, although Lupoli is looking forward to conversations with the governor and local and state officials to determine how to redevelop the area in a way that benefits all of the parties involved.
"We're ready to move forward on that," he said.