Sea Dog Brewing brings new restaurant to downtown ExeterBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
May 24. 2018 8:11PM
EXETER — A local landmark that was once home to the Loaf and Ladle restaurant will open its doors Friday as Sea Dog Brewing Company’s newest location.
The opening of the newly renovated downtown restaurant and brewpub at the corner of High and Water streets comes nearly 10 months after it was originally scheduled to open.
The 220-seat restaurant with 40 seats on a deck overlooking the picturesque Exeter River held a soft opening Wednesday with a full opening planned for Friday at 11 a.m.
Maine-based Sea Dog also has a restaurant in North Conway along with four locations in Maine and three in Florida.
The company began considering plans for an Exeter location in the spring of 2016 after the popular Loaf and Ladle soup and sandwich shop closed its downtown location in 2013 amid financial troubles.
The Exeter restaurant, which will do some brewing on site, features three functional floors and will offer its craft-brewed lineup of beers, full-service dining, bar and event space with lunch, dinner and eventually brunch.
The lower level is a space that could accommodate about 30 people in larger groups like youth sports teams, said Don Perkins, the general manager. The room also has a TV and a couple of arcade games.
Bars are featured on the first and second floors with the first-floor bar given a more intimate pub feel.
“With the first-floor bar, the main goal was to keep it dark and cozy. The ceilings are a little bit lower. The mugs are dangling down. We’ve got reclaimed wood in the back,” Perkins said.
The bar on the second floor is more opened up with 20- to 25-foot cathedral ceilings with lighter colors. It also includes an outside deck. While the entire building was completely renovated, some elements were preserved. For instance, Perkins said old wooden beams that were charred in a fire in the 1980s were kept and are exposed on the second-floor.
“Even though we did a lot of work to the building, we wanted to keep the actual integrity of the building intact and the history to it as well,” Perkins said.
Some of the walls are covered by framed pictures of dogs of all kinds owned by Sea Dog customers. Perkins said the hope is that the restaurant will be able to replace those pictures with ones of local dogs once it opens and its new customers begin sending in their pictures. The dog photo walls have been popular at Sea Dog’s locations in North Conway and Camden, Maine.
The restaurant, which has hired 50 to 60 part-time and full-time employees, will be open seven days a week.
Local officials who have walked by the empty former Loaf and Ladle building have been anticipating Sea Dog’s opening.
“The fact that the building is now up and running again adding another top flight bar and restaurant attraction is a real boon to Exeter. The Sea Dog has three active levels all of which provide great views and sounds of the river, so the ambiance is really incredible,” Town Manager Russ Dean said.
Dean added that he thinks the restaurant will bring more people to the downtown area, not only by car but by Amtrak’s Downeaster commuter rail service.