'Hit the Decks' event gets Portsmouth hoppingBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent May 11. 2017 10:37PM
PORTSMOUTH — Restaurants along the waterfront were hopping Thursday night, as “Hit the Decks” marked the official beginning of Portsmouth’s busy season.
Samantha Gagnon, manager at Martingale Wharf on Bow Street, said they have been looking forward to the upcoming months.
“We’ve had a long winter. We’re ready. Let’s have some fun,” Gagnon said. During the summer, the American bistro serves up to 1,600 people daily.
For Steve Tischner, who owns Natural Rocks Spring Water Ice Company in Eliot, Maine, the sound of drinks pouring means money in his pocket. Tischner said he sells 5 million bags of ice from Maine to Miami during the summer months. Many of his clients are Portsmouth restaurant owners.
Tischner said his ice is so popular because he uses nothing but spring water from Maine for his cocktail style cubes.
Locals Annie Gonsalves and Christiana Pimental were enjoying the festivities on Bow Street. Pimental said Hit the Decks is a chance to celebrate all the restaurants available to residents. Many of the eateries in Portsmouth shut down during the winter, and began reopening in recent weeks.
“It’s a local celebration. It’s a holiday,” Gonsalves said. “It’s a good day to be a local, and it’s a good way to kick off the summer.”
Bill McGrath, who is the owner of the seafood restaurant Harpoon Willy’s, said he enjoys both the tourists and regulars who frequent the popular establishment.
“And I’m happy to be among the other restaurants celebrating today,” McGrath said. Harpoon Willy’s is located between Martingale Wharf and Old Ferry Landing, which were each running Hit the Decks specials.
A total of 24 restaurants participated in Hit the Decks. Four hotels and 12 retail shops had sales and other incentives to draw in street traffic during the event.
Hit the Decks 2017 was sponsored by Samuel Adams.