Galley Hatch restaurant to feature Mediterranean food, entertainment
By Max Sullivan
Posted Jan. 23, 2015 at 2:00 AM
HAMPTON - John Tinios is getting in touch with his Greek and European roots this year, bringing Mediterranean food and entertainment to the Galley Hatch in a hip, laid back setting he believes the Seacoast hasn’t seen.
Tinios, established Seacoast restaurateur, is transforming the upstairs of his Route 1 eatery into what he called “a little more sophisticated” Mediterranean bar and lounge.
He said he’s “completely gutting” the upstairs, adding a three-season deck with a roof and radiant heat, open kitchen and tower to house a staircase and handicap elevator. Spanish, Italian, Greek and French wines, spirits and cuisines will be the focus in an atmosphere he said “a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old” could both be comfortable in.
“It’s a major infrastructure change in a building that’s 44 years old,” Tinios said.
The name is still a secret, but Tinios gave a hint. The club will take its name from an island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Construction, he said, is likely to begin in April and end in November.
Hampton Beach, Tinios said, already has “the younger demographic night-time thing covered.” It’s the hip, mature evening hangout that’s missing on the Seacoast. Tinios said he’s bringing that with “more of an adult nightclub” in the coming addition.
The deck, which Tinios called “pretty good-sized,” will feature rotating themes, always maintaining the feel of “something you’d see out on a boat on the Mediterranean.”
The Galley Hatch’s last upstairs night club, the 1940s themed Pelican Club, lasted from 1980 to 2002. It boomed in the mid-’80s and early-’90s, Tinios said, especially with the movie theater that existed right behind the restaurant.
But circumstances changed. Around 2002, the limit for blood alcohol content while driving had gone down to .08, Tinios said, leading to a noticeable difference in bar patronage.
Also, liquor insurances were much higher then and the more seats a restaurant had the higher it was. The Galley Hatch had two lounge areas at the time. The family decided the costs and liability that comes with potential over-serving was not worth the upstairs lounge, and the Pelican club was changed into a function room.
Times have changed, Tinios said. Liquor liability costs have gone down since 1994, and he believes people have adjusted to drinking responsibly in the modern era.
Tinios also said that restaurant patrons are gravitating towards lounges more often than sit-down restaurants. It’s the social atmosphere of the bar, he said, that seems to be drawing people even when they’re going out to have a full course meal.
“The time is right for something like this,” Tinios said. “People are stuck in front of a computer screen all day long, and they just want to go out and socialize, even when they go out to eat. When you go to restaurants, the lounge is busy. The restaurant is like there’s nobody there. It’s a pretty common thing. Even the fine dining places have turned more of their square footage into lounges.”
Tinios also believes Hampton is going through a “little bit of a renaissance.” He said it started with improvements made by the state to the beach area, like the Seashell Stage, bathrooms and the North Beach seawall, and he expects similar improvements to be made in the downtown area.
“There’s nothing like this in the Seacoast, so it’s filling a need,” Tinios said. “It’s going to be a cool place.”