Downtown restaurants rise to ‘Ice Bucket’ challenge for ALS

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Momentum is extending beyond the downtown restaurant scene to businesses and eateries in neighboring towns.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge completed at Red Arrow Diner.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge completed at Red Arrow Diner.

MANCHESTER, NH – You could call it the downtown dining bucket list – a growing “who’s who” compendium of eateries “calling one another out”to join in the notorious ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which is sweeping the country by way of social media to the tune of $4 million in donations, and counting, for the national ALS foundation.

ALS is an abbreviation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a debilitating, degenerative and ultimately fatal disease.

The challenge trickled down to Manchester businesses after Evan Adams, of River Road Tavern in Bedford,  called out his friends at Ignite and Hooked Seafood.

Owner Gucci Qureshi not only happily accepted on behalf of her business partners Ann Masterson and Melissa Cruz, but launched a similar challenge to her fellow NH Eats members, which includes: Jade Dragon, The Red Arrow, 900 Degrees, The Palace Theatre, and Gauchos Churrascaria Brazilian Steak House.

And as a result, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continues to extend throughout the tight-knit downtown business community – and beyond.

“Evan started it at River Road Tavern – one of his employees works here, also, so then after he called us out we decided to tag everyone of our NH Eats members,” Qureshi said. “But now the challenge is going out to restaurants outside our NH Eats group, which is great – we’re all in this together. We just want to find a unified way to keep people coming downtown to eat, rather than going to chain restaurants.”

Each restaurant is putting its own spin on the challenge, whether it’s calling out an individual employee or the entire staff dumping buckets of ice water in bucket-brigade fashion, as the staff of the Red Arrow chose to do, or in unison, as the staff of Belmont Hall chose to do.

Qureshi said it’s been a great way to build team spirit and bring visibility independent downtown eateries, all while supporting a great cause like ALS.

It is a phenomenon that goes back to Boston College alum Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with the disease several years ago. His family kicked off the bucket challenge in his honor. You can find more about that effort, aka Team FrateTrain, by searching #strikeoutALS on Facebook or by going to

In the two weeks since the ALS challenge started circulating via video challenges on Facebook and Twitter,  The ALS Association and its 38 chapters around the country have brought in upwards of $4 million in donations, compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year, according to their website.

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

With only about half of the general public knowledgeable about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge is making a profound difference. Since July 29, The Association has welcomed more than 70,000 new donors to the cause.

“While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible,” said Newhouse, “the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable. People who have never before heard of ALS are now engaged in the fight to find treatments and a cure for ALS.”

The list of high-profile participants continues to grow and includes the New England Patriots, Jimmy Fallon and his house band the Roots, Justin Timberlake, Martha Stewart, and Ethel Kennedy, who called out President Obama who, according to the Washington Post, is going to donate, but won’t be accepting the ice bucket part of the challenge.

Of course, he has his hands full right now with some serious global matters.

And while it would have been fun to see the First Family having fun with buckets of ice, the main thing, for the ALS Association – and more importantly for those who suffer from the disease – is the support from 70,000 new donors, thanks to this quirky fund-raising challenge.

Below is the list (so far) of local businesses and entities involved in the challenge. Click to see the Facebook proof of completed ice bucket challenges. We’ll try to keep up as the challenges are completed. If we missed anyone, please email

River Road Tavern

Ignite and Hooked Seafood

900 Degrees

Red Arrow Diner

N’awlins Grille

Belmont Hall 

Margie’s Dream

Mint Bistro


Club ManchVegas

Chez Vachon

Murphy’s Taproom


Airport Diner


Chiggy’s Place

Moe Joe’s


Florences (Merrimack)

Copper Door (Bedford)


Cactus Jacks


Strike Back

Tortilla Flat


Merrimack PD

Merrimack FD


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!