Sawtooth Kitchen aims to sink teeth into Hanover nightlife
The establishment will be in the basement of the former Dartmouth Bookstore.
According to general manager Kieran Campion, the restaurant and entertainment venue is set to open between late winter and late spring.
While there are few Hanover businesses that cater to nightlife, a new project proposed by Hanover developer Jay Campion and his son Kieran Campion plans to help fill that void. The Campions plan to open Sawtooth Kitchen — a restaurant and venue for artist performances which will be located in the basement of the former Dartmouth Bookstore.
Kieran Campion said as of now, they hope to open the restaurant and performance space “sometime between late winter and late spring.”
“We’re taking it slow and steady, but I hope we can open sometime this academic year,” he said.
According to Kieran Campion, Sawtooth Kitchen will try to cultivate a “very friendly vibe” and serve as a “community gathering space.” He added that while the restaurant will try to highlight artists and bands from the local area, he also plans to bring in performers from beyond the Upper Valley.
“I spent a good part of my career working as an actor and talent agent in New York and Chicago, so I have a lot of connections with musicians and actors,” Kieran Campion said.
In addition to the performance space, Kieran Campion said that Sawtooth Kitchen has also reached out to other businesses in Hanover to partner with them for both food service and performances. Still North Books & Bar owner Allie Levy ’11 said she has been in contact with Jay Campion — who is the landlord of the building that both Still North and Sawtooth Kitchen will share — about collaboration.
“We’ve chatted about the potential for hosting author events in the space,” Levy said. “[Still North] also has a small kitchen space, and sometimes, demand for food and drink outpaces the space we have to prepare those items, so I could see us collaborating with Sawtooth Kitchen on menu items and sharing kitchen space.”
Additionally, unlike most restaurants in Hanover, Kieran Campion said that Sawtooth Kitchen will be a “late night establishment” that will serve food until its bar closes, although the exact hours and menu haven’t been decided yet. The restaurant will specialize in takeout, though patrons will still be able to dine in for lunch and dinner, according to Kieran Campion.
Kieran Campion said that he was inspired to open Sawtooth Kitchen because Hanover lacks an establishment that combines dining and entertainment. He added that unlike other restaurants that have more limited entertainment — citing restaurants that may only host a band on Friday and Saturday nights as an example — the venue will plan to host “fully ticketed events” for stand-up comedy and improv.
“One of the other really exciting things we hope to do is give students a place to try out their artistic skills in a more professional setting,” Kieran Campion said. “Hanover can be a bit of a bubble at times, and to expose students who have ambitions about being artists or musicians after college would be a great opportunity for the College.”
Levy said she is “really excited” about the opening of the restaurant, as Hanover has been lacking a late night entertainment venue since Canoe Club closed in 2018. She added that the business model of Sawtooth Kitchen will bring something “really new and exciting.”
Because of the dual role of the restaurant as both a performance venue and a restaurant, Kieran Campion said that he and his father have been working closely with Hanover officials to make sure that the project aligns with Hanover zoning ordinances. According to Hanover planning and zoning director Robert Houseman, the Campions and the town of Hanover have agreed to consider the space primarily as a restaurant, with a zoning concession for use as an occasional music and entertainment venue.
“Under New Hampshire case law for permitting, restaurants are allowed to have certain accessory uses so long as they primarily remain a restaurant,” Houseman said. “ … We interact with him quite regularly, and he’s always been professional with regard to opening restaurants.”
Houseman added that he hopes Sawtooth Kitchen will succeed, as “good restaurants breed good restaurants,” and that a multitude of new establishments can reinvigorate post-pandemic downtown Hanover in a way that is enjoyable for the whole community.
While construction has begun on Sawtooth Kitchen, Kieran Campion said that the restaurant doesn’t have a set opening date for now because of global supply chain issues that are impacting the availability of construction materials. He also mentioned that he wants to wait to open the restaurant until he can be “confident” that he would not need to shut down in-person dining due to COVID-19 restrictions.