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April 13. 2014 9:13PM

Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: 'A perfect fit' at Hanover Street eateries


The new owners of Manchester's Ignite and Hooked restaurants are, from left, Tumseen "Gucci" Qureshi, Ann Masterson and Melissa Crews. (COURTESY)

Hanover Street's Hooked and Ignite eateries may be under new all-female ownership, but diners shouldn't expect to see too many changes.

"Neville has created a wonderful place, why mess with something that works?" said Melissa Crews, who took over the restaurants with Tumseen "Gucci" Qureshi and Ann Masterson on April 1.

I like their "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.

Ignite and Hooked, first opened by well-known Queen City restaurateur Neville Pereira in 2009 and 2011 respectively, are already popular restaurants, especially among Palace Theatre ticket holders. That is how Crews, a Bedford mother of two teen girls, first fell in love with the establishments. Her daughter, Tyler, has performed in several Palace Theatre productions, and the family found themselves eating at Ignite before or after shows and rehearsals, sometimes a couple of nights a week.

Crews said she grew up helping her mother run a family-style restaurant, and has always loved the business. She recently started talking to her friend, Masterson, about finding a restaurant to invest in. Masterson has been managing the Sudbury, Mass., eatery Bullfinchs for 22 years, and was ready to give up the long commute from Bedford.

The pair considered restaurants in Nashua and Merrimack, but then realized Manchester was the best option.

"All of our people are in Manchester. Hanover Street is particularly special because I spend so much time there. I shop at Statement, buy my exercise shoes at Runners Alley, see many shows at the Palace and I eat at Ignite and Hooked a lot," Crews said.

Crews and Masterson decided to approach Pereira for advice and he asked them to consider co-owning Hooked and Ignite with his daughter, Qureshi, who has been managing the restaurants since 2009.

"It was a perfect fit for the three of us," Crews said. "We are all moms and we all have kids that need us. It is our hope that we can complement each other and that I will get up to speed quickly and be able to give them a day off here and there."

"We aren't naive enough to believe that there won't be an awkward period as we each find out where we fit, but we all really like each other and hopefully the employees will come to love Ann and I as well," she added.

I wish these ladies the best of luck, and look forward to stopping in for a visit soon.

Team Lindsey

The Common Man's Airport Diner is stepping up to help a local family save their home from foreclosure. A spaghetti supper to support the Team Lindsey Donation Fund is scheduled for this Tuesday at the Brown Avenue restaurant.

The fund is named for 17-year-old Lindsey Vachon, a Memorial High School student who is legally blind and suffers from a rare disorder called septo optic dysplasia.
Erica Auciello Murphy, director of communications and community Relations for The Common Man and the Vachons' neighbor, said the teen stepped forward to assist her mother and younger siblings in fighting foreclosure on their home by writing letters to government officials, non-profit agencies and news organizations. Her story caught the attention of a local business that assists families in avoiding foreclosure. Less than 24 hours before the home was to be auctioned, they received a temporary stay.

While the initial battle was won, the family is in dire need of assistance as they fight to keep their home. Lindsey's mother, a single parent, is employed but is limited in the hours she can work due to Lindsey's life-threatening medical needs that require adult supervision at all times.

At Tuesday's Airport Diner fundraiser, $5 of each $10 spaghetti dinner sold between 4 and 7 p.m. will go to the Team Lindsey Donation Fund.

The meals include spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, a salad and a non-alcoholic beverage. Tax and gratuity are not included in the dinner price. Tickets are not needed, but be sure to mention the Team Lindsey fundraiser when you arrive.
Monarch mascot Max will be there from 4 to 5 p.m., and prizes, including an overnight stay at Mill Falls at the Lake in Meredith, gift cards from T-Bones, Cactus Jack's and Goldenrod, a donation from Double Midnight Comics, a Scentsy basket and a luxury suite for 16 people for a Monarchs game next season, will be raffled.

If the family is unsuccessful in staying in their home, the Team Lindsey Donation Fund will be dedicated to finding the family another safe place to live. Donations can be made to the fund at any St. Mary's Bank branch or online at http://www.youcaring.com/lvunstoppable. A Facebook page has been set up to support the family at www.facebook.com/lvunstoppable.

The Hunter Games

My friend Kerry Schleyer, who is a member of the Friends of Stark Park, recently sent a reminder to me and other Manchester moms that the annual Stark Park Easter Egg Hunt was coming on Saturday, April 19, at 11 a.m. sharp.

I told her I look forward to this emotionally scarring event every year.

Let's face it. Egg hunts are no longer the leisurely stroll through a field or manicured lawn, as depicted in the movies. It's actually more like the "Hunger Games," where kids fight to the near death to get the most and best eggs.

Stakes are raised at the Stark Park Egg Hunt, with a few coveted golden eggs that can be redeemed for larger prizes. Volunteers have to rope off the age-restricted areas to discourage children (and sadly their parents) from staking out the golden eggs too early. If one is visible from the sidelines, you can be sure a pileup is going to happen as soon as the whistle is blown to start the hunt. Parents just hope that if their kid does end up at the bottom, he or she emerges with an egg and not a broken limb.

Let me be clear. I am enormously grateful to Schleyer, Mark Roy, Andrea Hecker, Will Stewart and the rest of the volunteers who spend hours planning and stuffing eggs for this event, and I really do look forward to it. It's a tradition — like forcing your screaming child to sit on Santa's lap — and I would never change it.

It's more than just a no-holds-barred egg hunt, it's the time when friends and neighbors emerge from their long winter hibernations and reconnect with hugs and smiles, saying "Yes! Spring is finally here."

Be sure that your family comes out of hibernation to join in the fun this Saturday. The hunt is for ages 8 and under, and participants must bring their own basket. There will be photos with the Easter Bunny, face painting and a visit from the Manchester Police Mounted Unit.

For more information, visit www.friendsofstarkpark.org.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

NH365.org is chock full of church services celebrating Holy Week, beginning on Tuesday with a Chrism Mass at Saint Joseph Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Peter A. Libasci and the priests in the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

This is the annual blessing of the oils that will distributed among the diocese's parishes and institutions for use during the next year at baptisms, confirmations and other important Catholic events and sacraments. At this special Mass, all priests will be given the opportunity to renew their priestly promises during the Liturgy.
General seating is available to those who would like to attend, but please RSVP online at www.catholicnh.org/parish/worship/chrism/.Brookside Congregational Church will hold a new meditative Good Friday Cross Walk with Jesus beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Attendees will start in the church's parking lot and walk in silence with some carrying a cross, while prayers are offered at various points along the way.
The church is also offering a sunrise service on Easter Sunday, beginning at 6:30 a.m. on the Manning House lawn, followed by a pancake breakfast fundraiser.Manchester Christian Church is taking a field trip of sorts and holding four identical Easter Sunday services at JFK Coliseum at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

For more Holy Week services and other spirited events around Manchester, visit www.NH365.org.

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If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, write to Scene@UnionLeader.com.


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