Beach Plum/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
The Beach Plum in New Hampshire: Overflowing Fresh Lobster Rolls, Amazing New England
Clam Chowder, 78 Ice Cream Flavors
The Beach Plum lobster roll.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 2/26/2018.
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New England clam chowder, lobster rolls and bisque, fried seafood and
cream epitomize the joys of a classic New England coastal summertime
meal -- or any time of the year, for that matter.
The Beach Plum in coastal North Hampton and Portsmouth and inland
Epping, N.H., seems to take that seafood shack concept
to the next level, however, as evidenced by crowds of locals and
travelers coming for some regional comfort food delights, as well as
significant recognition from the
The accolades read like a "Best of New England" culinary resume. A New
Hampshire Magazine poll of readers revealed The Beach Plum as
the Best of New Hampshire for lobster rolls nine consecutive years
starting in 2009. The annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival has awarded The Beach Plum for best fried seafood, chowder, lobster
bisque and, yes, lobster rolls. Taste
Magazine billed the Beach Plum
for "Best of Taste of the Seacoast" for many years, as well as New
Cable News and the Phantom Gourmet consistently recognizing the high
level of quality from this beloved New Hampshire seafood shack. The
list goes on and on and with respect to internet bandwidth, we'll just
end this paragraph by saying, "You get the picture."
Lobster bisque from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.
the peak of summer, an order is taken every 30 seconds at the North
Hampton location -- and, overall, at the three locations, more than
300,000 customer orders are recorded in a year.
Seventy percent of the off-season customers consist of locals
and 50 percent during peak season. Eighty percent of the tourist trade
comes from the Boston area, down to Connecticut and the New York City
Customers, ultimately, look for something far beyond an impressive
list, or resume, and seek along with great food, some kind of
meaningful connection. Good news: The Beach Plum, on many levels, comes
across as the ultimate seafood shack with its appearance, service,
atmosphere, cleaniness, comfort and, of course, delicious food. It
almost seems like a rite of passage into a local seafood shack
experience. As good
as many of the local seafood shacks are, it's rare to find one that
operates efficiently and consistently on all levels. The Beach Plum,
fortunately, comes closest to perfection in those important
Bob Lee, co-owner of The Beach Plum
with wife Nancy Lee, was born and raised by the New Hampshire coast
and still resides there today. He is a former investment specialist who
took his award-winning ways in that field to The Beach Plum starting in
1992. While laid back and very friendly, Lee is also intense and studied
when it comes to business and of the mindset to do things better than
the competition -- not just in words, but in action.
Bob Lee, owner, and Lorraine Petrini, director of marketing at The Beach Plum.
Case-in-point: Lee prefers sourcing hard
shell lobster as he firmly believes this version yields a better
tasting, more developed lobster that is richer in protein. The
result at all three Beach Plum locations: a spectacular, mouthwatering
lobster roll with tender lobster
-- overflowing out of the lightly toasted, buttered bun -- that I feel
is the best lobster roll in New England (served with tasty
Wachusett Potato Chips). But it is not just the sourcing, but also the
preparation that makes this lobster roll a local treasure. For
starters, The Beach Plum puts more
lobster in its lobster roll than any other we've experienced, to date,
so no matter what size -- five, six, eight or 10 oz. -- customers are
definitely getting their money's worth (there's just a touch of mayo,
and no fillers). Add a cup of delicious New England clam chowder or
lobster bisque, and ice cream, and you
have a complete, quintessential summertime meal
"We take the very best of lobsters," said Lee, of the
sourcing. "We treat it like a good steak. Competitors mostly buy the
soft shell lobster. and then fill it with things like lettuce, tomato, peppers,
onions, and more mayo. It might keep the cost down, but you are
not getting as much real lobster. Here, we have no fillers and much
more meat coming from the hard shell. It tastes better, too."
One doesn't have to enjoy seafood, though, to love The Beach Plum as
they also serve a wide variety of rolls, wraps, subs, sandwiches, chili
and hot dogs.
While many other family-style dining places offer, typically, 24 to
48 Richardson's ice cream flavors, The Beach
Plum serves 78. Whether hard
serve, soft serve or frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet, it's an
astonishing selection of frozen treats brought in from a beloved ice cream business based in Middletown, Mass.
Richardson's ice cream is served at The Beach Plum. Photo
credit: The Beach Plum.
Ice cream sundae from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach
"Ice cream is important to us," said Lee. "People love the
ice cream choices here and, for us, it takes the peaks
and valleys out of the business. We do a good business for lunch and
then at 1:30, the ice cream sales pick up. At 5:00, it drops but then
it is time for dinner."
Another appealing aspect of The Beach Plum: They hire very nice people
through a thorough hiring process. From experienced managers to the
generations employed, service is consistently attentive, quick and
responsive. Some other seafood shacks I have been to recently have not
only deteriorated in
their appearances, but also in customer service -- sometimes to the
point of listlessness and apathy. It's nice to see such
genuine people wanting to help the customer at The Beach Plum.
"We have some very nice people working here," said Lorraine Petrini,
director of marketing. "It is really a great place to work. I really
enjoy working here."
Beach Plum staff. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.
Without further ado, let's take a look at all three locations and their
similarities and differences...
THE BEACH PLUM IN NORTH
The Beach Plum in North Hampton. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.
Given its idyllic setting and long-time presence, the
seasonal, flagship North Hampton location probably is probably most
near and dear
to the hearts of customers with its old-time classic seafood shack
look. Diners can enjoy eating outside at shaded picnic tables across
from beautiful North Hampton state beach, or at the adjacent seawall or
sandy beach. This
experience is definitely part of the unmistakable essence of a New
England summer by the sea with the bustling nature of a no-frills but
welcoming seafood shack serving chowder and lobster rolls, the salt sea
air, the tall trees swaying in the breeze, scenic ocean views across
the street, and laid-back coastal feel. The Beach Plum in North Hampton
is also just a
10-minute ride to Hampton Beach -- a famous, lively beach town with
a beautiful, expansive
ocean beach, arcades, a nice boardwalk and a classic honky-tonk vibe.
Back to The Beach Plum: Along with
the lobster rolls, lobster bisque, New England clam chowder and ice
cream, other favorites at the North Hampton destination include lobster
seafood chowder, fish chowder,
hot dogs, chili, corn chowder, salads rolls, wraps, subs and sandwiches
(try the haddock sandwich with the legendary "Whale's Tail" -- see
Fried haddock sandwich with fries from The Beach Plum. Photo
credit: The Beach Plum.
New England clam chowder from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The
Lobster roll from The Beach Plum.
While the North Hampton location provides a storybook-like coastal New
England seafood shack dining experience, the other locations also share
The Beach Plum's excellence in different and more often comprehensive
regards to the menu offerings...
THE BEACH PLUM IN PORTSMOUTH AND EPPING
The Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo credit: the
The Beach Plum in Portsmouth and Epping, both open year-round, carry some of the same menu
items as the North Hampton location (to view all three menus, click
here), but also feature fresh ground
Angus burgers and mammoth fried and baked seafood meals that come with
cole slaw and a roll. They also feature wine and beer
selections. Portsmouth sports an outdoor deck (as seen above) and
spotless, sunny inside dining area with pine picnic benches and huge
Dining room at the Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo credit: the
also happens to be one of New England's most charming small cities with
a very walkable downtown featuring locally-owned shops, parks, a
vibrant dining scene with restaurants of virtually all ethnicities,
views of the harbor, and the famed Strawbery Banke -- a spectacular
outdoor living museum consisting of 32 beautifully maintained old homes
and 10 exquisite gardens. Located near Hampton Beach, the southern
Maine coast and the North Shore of Massachusetts, Portsmouth, for many,
is the go-to place in this region for big city amenities, albeit in a
small town setting.
Downtown Portsmouth, N.H.
The Beach Plum in Portsmouth is about a 15-minute ride to York Beach, Maine, one of the most popular coastal
destinations in New England. York Beach features two outstanding
beaches (Short Sands and Long Sands), arcades, an amusement park and
zoo, the iconic Nubble Lighthouse and many good-to-excellent
dining options. I would still opt for the food at the Beach Plum,
lobster roll and chowder have a lot to do with that preference, as I
haven't found any similar dining out spots in York Beach as good as The
Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine.
Although it is not situated in the downtown Portsmouth district where
most of the
most heralded restaurants reside, The Beach Plum, to me, is an
important part of that vibrant, often outstanding Portsmouth dining
scene. Let's face it, though,
many locals and visitors -- especially families -- want large servings
of comfort foods with good value for
the money instead of high-priced food in smaller portions. This fried
clam plate with a glass of beer drives home that point...
Fried clams and beer from The Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Photo
credit: The Beach Plum.
The Epping Beach Plum is located at the intersection of Routes 101 and
125 -- one of the most heavily driven sections in New Hampshire. Not a
tourist destination, Epping has more of a working class,
suburban-meets-rural vibe. It's not too far from Manchester -- New
Hampshire's largest city -- and beautiful Exeter, home of Phillips Exeter Academy and one of
the most pleasant, interesting downtown districts in New England.
Downtown Exeter, N.H.
The Beach Plum in Epping has a modern look similar to Portsmouth with
the patented purple and white exterior sign and an expansive dining
room with high ceilings and a lighted menu board above the order
counter that is one of the longest displays we have seen in the
The Beach Plum in Epping.
Dining section and order counter at the Beach Plum in Epping.
The Epping location also offers a large outdoor deck and is located
within an impressive shopping center that includes stores like the New
Hampshire State Liquor Store, Market Basket, Marshalls, Petsmart,
Michael's and O'Neil Cinemas.
I recently had a lobster roll (do you detect a pattern here?) with
onion rings and freshly squeezed lemonade at the Epping Beach Plum...
Lobster roll and lemonade from The Beach Plum in Epping.
Onion rings from The Beach Plum in Epping.
PERSONAL CONCLUSION: THE BEACH PLUM IS A STANDOUT IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE NEW ENGLAND DINING OUT GENRE
The Beach Plum ultimately takes on the standardization of a quality
chain restaurant with the personal touch of a real, authentic seafood
shack. The Lees have clearly
mastered the art of creating the height of classic seafood comfort
foods and landlubber favorites. They have also perfected the science of running a successful dining out spot, while
realizing there is no margin for error when serving
the public. The New England coast features some of the very best
seafood shacks in the United States and customer allegiance can shift
from one place to another in a hurry --
often based on the last dining experience. That The Beach Plum
has an exceptionally high rate of return
customers speaks volumes of the integrity and overall excellence of
their three businesses.
Garden scallop salad from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.
"We especially see a lot of families and retirees," said Lee, of the
customer base at The Beach Plum. "We try to look at all of our menus
and be practical and pragmatic to the customer... People love coming
here. We can go through over a 1,000 pounds of lobster meat in a day
during peak season."
Call it "claw and order" at the highest level!
Lobster roll, chips and beer from The Beach Plum. Photo credit: The Beach Plum.
The Beach Plum in North Hampton is located at 17 Ocean Blvd. on Route
1A across from the North Hampton State Beach. Tel. 603-964-7451.
Reopening for the season April 2018. The Beach Plum in Portsmouth is
2800 Lafayette Blvd. on Route 1. Tel. 603-433-3339. The Beach Plum in
Epping is located at the Brickyard Square Shopping Center, 24 NH 125.
Tel. 603-679-3200. Web sites: http://www.thebeachplum.net, http://www.lobsterrolls.com,
The Beach Plum social media links
Also, please view these videos on The Beach Plum
England Cable News (NECN) Recognizes Beach Plum for Best Local Lobster
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