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October 26. 2013 1:18AM

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Tap House Grille is a hidden gem


 


New England's Tap House opened in Hooksett in January. (UNION LEADER FILE)

Once in a while you stumble across something you recognize as truly unique. And that happened to me when I came across the New England's Tap House Grille in Hooksett.

For those that are unfamiliar with the Tap House, it's a restaurant that opened in January at 1292 Hooksett Road. If you're coming from Manchester, it's a little over a mile north of the Cinemagic movie theaters. Situated in a strip mall and sharing store frontage with a big named bank and other well-known retail stores, the Tap House is in a location you wouldn't expect.

I'm far from a restaurant critic and don't claim to be an expert on the food service industry, but I do know something good when I experience it. Due to my schedule and lack of time to allocate towards cooking, I tend to eat out a lot more than I'd like to admit. I've had my fair share of restaurant experiences, and that's why I feel compelled to share my experience at the Tap House.

First and most importantly, the restaurant business is a people business. Sure, you have to have good food and a desirable atmosphere, but that is expected. It's all about the people and the experience they have. And that is one of the most important aspects of the restaurant business the Tap House has truly figured out.

It only took a few visits for the wait staff at the Tap House to figure me out. They were very in tune with my routine and have always done an amazing job making me feel like I was coming to eat at a friend's house. Although it wasn't obvious to me, this approach is by design and part of what they want every customer to feel.

The last time I went to the Tap House for dinner, I followed my usual routine, sat down at the bar and ordered a drink and dinner. As I was finishing my dinner and the waitress asked me if I wanted another beer, I realized that this was the fourth person that night that had waited on me. That's something you just don't see very often.

Everyone who works at the Tap House has a team mentality. It shows and it's one of the only times I've ever experienced that in a restaurant. It wasn't about the individual waiter or waitress that was serving me. The entire staff was focused on making sure I was taken care of. And they did that flawlessly.

After I finished eating, I decided to track down the owner and provide feedback on my experience. I noticed a guy going table to table talking to people and had a suspicion he may be the owner, so I introduced myself to him. Sure enough, it was owner Dan Lagueux, who founded the Tap House with his wife and co-owner, Valerie Vanasse. And when I had time to sit down with him and hear his story, I was blown away.

There is nothing I find more interesting than stories of successful entrepreneurs who give everything they have to pursue their dreams. And that's exactly what Dan Lagueux did.

Dan Lagueux, a former drill instructor in the Canadian military, came to the United States 11 years ago and at the time was working for a granite company. He eventually chose to invest every dollar he had into pursuing his dream and starting the Tap House. After he was told no 26 times by various banks and financers, he finally came across the right company that was willing to invest in his idea. And the rest is history.

Today, the New England Tap House Grille has become a part of Hooksett and the greater Manchester community. Not only do they have over 50 beers on tap, with the majority being from local brewers, their menu is full of great dishes with something everyone will enjoy.

But it's more than the food and the beer. It's about the environment and experience you have when you're there. The approach the New England Tap House team takes to ensuring you have the best possible experience is something that is truly unique and difficult to find.

Congratulations to Dan and the New England Tap House team and keep up the outstanding level of service you provide. I hope others learn from your belief in team work, passion for excellence and willingness to go the extra mile with all that you do.

Christopher Thompson (cthompson@catch22solutions.com) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.



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