It began, says Josh Tuohy, with a refrigerator, a panini grill and a head full of dreams. “And a smile for everyone who walked in the door,” adds Josh, remembering the day, four years ago, when he and his brother Joe opened Salt hill Pub.
This Saturday, Salt hill (the lower case is intentional) celebrates its fourth anniversary on the Lebanon green with more of the food, music and good cheer that’s made their reputation. Pete Merrigan, who Josh watched as a toddler when his mom and dad ran the Shanty in Sunapee, plays an early set at 6 PM. Later it’s Sirsy, an Albany duo that typifies the unique blend of familiar and adventurous music pub patrons count on.
Josh says it’s hard to name a favorite memory. “Every St. Patrick’s Day is huge, typically a lot of our family members show up” to join the regulars – who he also thinks of as family. “They fit right in, it’s great how similar the two groups are.”
“There’s an old saying,” he continues. “The essence of any good pub is the people standing inside it.”
Having a good crew helps enormously, he says. “I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you, and I know Joe agrees with me – we have the most attentive, fun-loving staff in the Upper Valley.”
Many are Tuohy family members. “My sister Lynn, my brothers PJ and Joe, of course. My brother Matt pulls the occasional shift but he’s our bookkeeper, my brother Dan has worked the door a lot, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.” Two of Lynn’s daughters are servers at the recently opened Salt hill Two in Newport.
2007 has been an active year for the pub. They made their first foray into concert promotion with the recent Saw Doctors Opera House show. There’s also a new Salt hill home page on the World Wide Web, for customers to peruse menus, get directions and check out the all-important music calendar.
With a laugh, Josh calls the salthillpub.com web site “inching towards modernity.”
And the new location is doing such a good job recreating the Salt hill formula that they may some day take it beyond Lebanon and Newport. “We’re growth-minded,” says Josh, although there’s no immediate expansion plans.
“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” he says, adding that Joe and his wife recently welcomed the arrival of a new son, Thomas Tuohy.
“He’ll probably start training sometime in August,” Josh says with a smile.
What’s the secret to their success?
“Honest food, perfect pints, live music and good humor – just like the menu says,” answers Josh. “After some fifty thousand glasses of Guinness over four years, we’re starting to get the hang of it.”