As I walk down the street on a sunny day in Durham, five words printed on a window poster catch my eye: “can’t wait to meat you,” the word meat spelled like the food rather than the verb. The next thing that reaches me is the pungent smell of cement. Then I hear the sound of machines working in the background. I reach my destination, look in through the open door, and step inside the construction zone that is soon to be Hop & Grind.
Hop and Grind is a restaurant and bar coming soon to downtown Durham, set to open in the next few weeks. I had the pleasure of meeting up with co-owner and creator, Bobby Marcotte, for an interview.
Bobby Marcotte and Paul Simbliaris, the owners of Tuckaway Tavern, are developing Hop & Grind as a side project along with new co-owner Bobby Buivide.
“Hop, from beer, and Grind, from burgers,” Marcotte said as he explained the restaurant’s name. “We knew we were a craft beer and burger spot and just wanted to think of a name that kind of touched on both points.
A unique name isn’t the only thing to look forward to from Hop & Grind. Marcotte goes on to discuss how Hop & Grind will revolutionize the making of burgers.
“A lot of places just grill a patty and put a bunch of toppings on it. We’re actually sticking our toppings in the burger as well and then pairing toppings on top, so it’s kind of a completely unique burger as opposed to everything everyone else is doing,” he said.
Durham is home to many eating establishments including family restaurants, coffee shops, bars and casual dining. In fact, there is already another burger bar named Lexie’s. When asked how Hop & Grind was expected to compete with these other dining places, Marcotte responded by saying, “our way of competing is by not competing and being completely unique, [and] always trying to think outside the box.”
In an interview with Lexie’s, they demonstrated a similar attitude to competition. Since Lexie’s is an already established fixture downtown, they do not expect to lose much business to Hop & Grind, especially as they are now open seven days a week. “We just know there are going to be certain demographics that will come here and certain demographics that will go there,” said Amelia Milonas, Lexie’s employee.
So what else makes Hop & Grind special?
The restaurant is going to be designed with distinctive retro elements, which Marcotte thinks will make them unique in every way.
Already looking into getting involved with UNH’s Best Buddies program and St. Jude’s, a national charity they support, Hop & Grind is eager to contribute to the local community in several ways. “I think we’re just bringing a really cool vibe and environment to not just the students but to the community and to the residents, giving them somewhere new and unique they can come dine at and do it quickly or also hangout if they want to,” Marcotte added.
With the business opening in the near future, Marcotte told me that this restaurant was meant to be the flagship location, hopefully resulting in many other Hop & Grind locations. “It’ll be cool to get the first one up and running,” he said. “We set out to have the best burgers not just in New Hampshire but the entire country.”