Sawtooth Kitchen sinks teeth into the Hanover social scene

The new restaurant and bar, located on Allen Street, brings a new space for food, drinks and entertainment to town.

by Zander Kurita | 10/13/22 5:00am

On Sept. 20, Sawtooth Kitchen opened its doors to the Hanover community. The new restaurant and bar serves lunch and dinner and also hosts late-night events with DJs, musical guests and comedians. 

Sawtooth owner Kieran Campion said that the restaurant aims to provide a different approach to building community compared to other options in Hanover. Having grown up in the area, Campion said that he and his father, Jay Campion, based the creation of Sawtooth around the aim of being a unique scene for Hanover’s young adults. He also said that he thinks Sawtooth will be an especially appealing social scene to those who either aren’t interested in going to parties hosted by fraternities or as a new venue to bands.

After a private opening with a music act, Sawtooth’s first full weekend included lunch and dinner service as well as an evening performance on Friday, Sept. 30. Josh Ocampo ’22, who runs social media communications for Sawtooth, said he has been “surprised” at how many people have been coming to the restaurant. As a comedian himself, Ocampo voiced his excitement about the performing side of Sawtooth, citing his observation that bands very rarely perform in campus venues outside of Greek houses or One Wheelock in the Collis Center.

Like Ocampo, Campion said that he sees an opportunity for Sawtooth “to bring the talents of the community and the talents of the College together, which often do not cross-pollinate.” He added that the venue will host performers such as current students, former students and residents of the Upper Valley.

On Oct. 6, Sawtooth hosted comedian Paul Ollinger Tu’97 for a show opened by members of Dartmouth Comedy Network. With many Tuck School of Business alumni in town for reunions, there was a large turnout with a lot of excitement about the new space, Campion said. 

Keith Espinosa Tu’97 said that Sawtooth is “something different” compared to what is typically offered by other small college towns, like Williamstown, Mass. — home of Williams College — and Amherst, Mass. — the location of Amherst College. 

“I think it’s great to have a space like that with people trying stuff out. It’s awesome,” David Allen Tu’97 said. Having experienced the Hanover entertainment scene when he was a student at the Tuck School of Business, Allen added that Sawtooth can offer more opportunities for different varieties of artists to have a space to perform.

Denzel Davis ’23 went to the Oct. 6 comedy show to see a classmate perform. He said that the venue and performances “added a sort of light” at a time of the term when midterm exams have students “a little down.” Davis added that the venue felt different than shows on campus at a fraternity.

“There’s a legitimacy to it; I felt more engaged and invested in the comic that went up,” he said.

Although it may at first be a challenge, Campion and others involved in the project said that they are “confident” in Sawtooth’s ability to rise above the frats. Bob Coyle, one of Sawtooth’s managers, mentioned how one patron noted that their feet did not “stick to the floor” when they walked inside Sawtooth. He also highlighted the “large” numbers of Tuck, Geisel School of Medicine students and undergraduates that have been coming to Sawtooth, which would allow Sawtooth to thrive even when Greek houses are hosting events.

Coyle said that Sawtooth distinguishes itself from others bars and restaurants in town with a menu including “comfort food,” with the addition of “lighter fare” for lunch and late-night in the future. 

Executive chef Stephen Roberts said that he sees Sawtooth taking bar food to a different level. He said that he prefers that “almost everything be made from scratch,” adding that Sawtooth’s bacon, American cheese, sauces and dressings are all made in their kitchen. Roberts said that he believes that his meticulous approach will set Sawtooth apart from other restaurants.

Coyle said that Sawtooth will fine-tune its lunch, dinner and late-night menus according to feedback from students and residents. Because Sawtooth is also a restaurant, students under the age of 21 will also be able to visit to eat and watch performances, he added.

Ocampo, who said he became involved with Sawtooth because he wanted more experience in the service industry, added that believes Dartmouth students can gain valuable experience at bars and restaurants. Roberts said he is open to hiring students and part-time workers.

“I love cooking. I love explaining the things we’re doing here,” Roberts said.

Correction appended (Oct. 16, 9:2 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sawtooth's opening weekend included performances on both Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. There were musical performances on Friday, Sept. 30. The article has been updated.