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Eager patrons stand in line for Portsmouth opening year after 'State Street Saloon' destroyed by fire

Union Leader Correspondent

April 23. 2018 8:08PM
Owner Eli Sokorelis was at the opening of The Statey Bar and Grill on Deer Street in Portsmouth Friday. The event marked the return of the popular local bar, which was destroyed by fire in 2017. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

The Statey Bar and Grill was packed with people eating and enjoying a beer at lunchtime Friday. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH — The “Cheers of Portsmouth” has reopened in a different location, a little more than a year after fire destroyed the building that had housed the State Street Saloon.

Now on Deer Street where the Veterans of Foreign Wars building was, The Statey Bar and Grill was packed at lunchtime Friday. Owner Eli Sokorelis was happy to see so many of his longtime customers and friends at the opening.

“It feels like we’re whole again,” he said.

Inside, the outdoor signs of the old saloon now hang. A large bar spans the right side and the left, with tables between.

Former Portsmouth City Councilor Joshua Cyr was enjoying a burger with a co-worker.

“It feels great. There is good food, and I just got my first beer. There are a lot of familiar faces,” he said.

Colin McGee, of Portsmouth, and Phil Scarponi, of Newmarket, graduated from Portsmouth High School and said they’ve been customers since they turned 21. Scarponi wore his State Street Saloon beer koozie and a State Street Strong T-shirt for the auspicious reopening.

“I think it means a lot to the longtime residents,” McGee said.

Sarah Papa, of Portsmouth, and Jocelyn Vest, of Dover, work in Portsmouth. Papa used to go to the State Street Saloon before the fire, but Vest had never been.

“It still has that old State Street feel,” Papa said. “They need more dive bars, more homey places in Portsmouth.”

Michael Conley, the son of Sokorelis, said people began lining up outside at 10:30 a.m. to get in. He expressed gratitude to all who have supported the business and his family and continue to.

“Just everyone has been amazing,” Conley said.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

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