Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom - Act VII: Jon Papandrew

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1899 - 1999

Mixing It Up

People in the Seacoast area may remember Jon Papandrew from the days he and his wife ran A Moveable Feast in the 1990s. He's also worked at a number of Portsmouth's best restaurants and eateries, including the Dolphin Striker and the Oar House. He was also the catering director at Tanglewood for two years and oversaw something in the neighborhood of 290 events during a ten week stretch, including the Gala for the opening of the Ozawa Hall.

But that kind of life can be grueling. So Papandrew, who lives in Rye, wanted something in that line of work that was also closer to home.

"So I called down here to the Casino one day on a whim and asked if they'd like to talk to me," he recalls. "And they did." That was four years ago. Papandrew's desk is situated next to Fred Schaake Jr.'s, and their banter is easy and friendly. During the day Papandrew needs to get a few things done, such as setting up the main Ballroom for up to 1,800 paying customers on any given night, as well as making sure the acts get what they want, overseeing backstage hospitality needs, and ensuring the corporate representatives in the Skyboxes are happy.

Jon Papandrew

Jon Papandrew, operations and special events
director of the Hampton Beach Casino.
[Photograph by Ralph Morang.]

No easy task. Papandrew oversees a large and competent staff. The figures alone will give you some idea of the size of the operation. During a season, he'll supervise a staff of between 65 to 70 people: 9 bartenders, 6 barbacks, about 25 waiters and waitresses and a security detail between 15 and 25 "depending on the show," he says.

Papandrew subscribes to the unofficial doctrine of how the Casino is run these days by the Schaake family: create an atmosphere that is comfortable and efficient. He knows first-hand the benefits of running a tight ship. Papandrew was at the notorious 1971 Jethro Tull concert during which 3,000 ticketless fans stormed the gates and the National Guard was called out.

These days are different, however. "We want the artists to feel comfortable," he says. "We want them to come back." Papandrew mentions the southern-rock band The Black Crowes, who said "that this is their home away from home" and he added that he hopes the backstage has that atmosphere.

Papandrew thinks he has found a home. "We have a great team here; I like the sanity of the staff, because life here can get hectic."

Then he mentions a pretty good reason for coming to the Casino to see and hear a musical act.

"I mean, how many places can you come into," he asks, "and see a national act and rest your arms on the stage?"

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