Change is hard. With the departure of Allie’s Beach Street Café due to Chef/Owner Glenn Varga’s stroke, the space at 35 Beach Street sat empty for just long enough to have us all in Manchester wondering what would come of it.
Then, a little flurry of activity followed by a note in the window indicating that something would soon arrive — and arrive they have. 35 Beach opened on the 2nd of July, just in time for the summer slam.
I slipped in a couple of times, unplanned, and was delighted to find a new twist to the usual Manchester fare. On my first visit I had the Bay of Fundy salmon, which with its sushi rice and furikake was lovely! Everyone in my group found the food to be quite good. We even tried the fried Maine smelts! I returned days later to the reliable fried haddock sandwich, this is a beach town after all. And I am looking forward to tucking into the lobster tempura next. I have not yet tried them myself, but have heard rave reviews of the cocktails, expertly crafted by 35 Beach’s mixologist, Joshua Salmons. So, to answer the question everyone undoubtedly has—YES, the food is good! Moreover, the menu is interesting. This is due in part to the upbringing of co-owner Margaret Cain.
Margaret’s love of food stems from time with her mother, a self-taught Japanese cook. For her mother, and now for Margaret, food is about making people feel “amazing.” Margaret’s goal in opening 35 Beach has been to make people feel “embraced and enlightened.” This ethic has been front and center from reimagining the physical space, to helping her Executive Chef curate the menu, to assembling a warm and inviting wait staff. And it’s working. It feels good to be there.
35 Beach came about rather serendipitously. For some time, Margaret had wanted to open a restaurant, but found herself intimidated. Her son, Matt Jr., had wanted for some time to tackle starting a business. He approached Margaret, to which she replied, “The only way I would do it is if it were in Manchester.”
Which, at the time, seemed impossible.
Alas, the space at 35 Beach became available. Margaret’s husband Mathew was ready to line up the financing, Matt Jr. was good to go and, what’s more, his very best friend, Nicolas Intonti, a veteran chef from Boston’s Aquitaine and Cinquecento came on board, bringing culinary rigor and passion to Margaret’s personal inspiration. It would seem that 35 Beach was inevitable.
The first step in realizing their vision was tackling the restaurant space itself, which badly needed updating. Margaret oversaw the redesign, bringing a “coastal casual” feel from the white shiplap walls, mahogany shelving and turquoise tile. A much-needed new bar area was built, and it’s now the center of the restaurant.
On my first evening at 35 I was there at the tail end of the day. Nick, came through to say hello to friends, and popped by our table. He is very easy going, and truly interested in how you felt about the food. Photographing him in the kitchen, Nick makes it all look effortless. He totally underplayed the amount of time and work it took to get to this ease by simply saying he loves food, and so he’s a chef. He joked about growing up eating the amazing food prepared by his grandmother, and finally when he was old enough to begin cooking himself asked for her famous spaghetti sauce only to discover that it consisted of three very basic ingredients; perhaps it was the love that made it so good. Whatever it was, Nick has it.
Now with Matthew, Matt Jr. and Margaret running the business, Nick in the kitchen, daughter Brittany designing the logo and social media and, with their granddaughter, Naya as a hostess, 35 Beach is—truly—a family affair.
The day I came by to visit it felt more like being in someone’s home for dinner than a restaurant. Cain after Cain just kept coming by to say hello or ask a question. A plate of fresh fries came out and all gathered around to chat and nibble.
While change is hard, it is also inevitable. Our beloved space is in good hands. The warmth of family and the desire to make us all feel a little better for having visited makes 35 Beach special. I am so glad they are here. Welcome.
35 Beach Street, Manchester | Open Wed - Sun 11:30am - 10pm - 978.526.0506