MANCHESTER, NH – At The Dugout, the love of Boston sports teams runs deep. So deep in fact that when a game is on, any sort of music is turned off so there’s nothing competing with the bar’s 14 televisions.
“New England is truly sports nation. It runs through our blood. We support our teams with the same excitement as if we were sitting on the bench waiting to be put in,” said Joe Grella, Executive Chef of The Dugout and 1Oak on Elm. “And because of that, we take watching our teams very seriously here.”
The Dugout opened on August 8 in the basement of the former Black Brimmer space on Elm Street. Owners Josh Porter and Kevin Stevens of JPKS Management are turning the former downtown icon into a split-level concept restaurant. The basement houses The Dugout and a pub food menu, and the main floor will house 1Oak on Elm with more upscale dining and live music. 1Oak on Elm is expected to open mid-November and Grella is the executive chef for both restaurants.
Although The Dugout’s space was completely gutted and rebuilt, fans of the Black Brimmer are happy to see the bar’s signature mirror remain.
“People love seeing that the mirror is still here. It honors the history of the space. A lot of people in this city had a lot of memorable times at the Brimmer,” said Grella.
The Dugout’s mission is to fill a void in the downtown bar scene where there are lots of places to drink and listen to live music, but nowhere to watch a game without distractions while having good food and drinks.
Grella designed the menu to include pub favorites as well as some of his Italian family’s favorite recipes.
“Growing up my family made all of our own bread, dough and pasta. It’s just what I’m used to and prefer,” said Grella. A graduate of Keiser University Melbourne Center for Culinary Arts in Florida, he grew up in Derry, NH.
Just prior to landing this gig with JPKS Management, Grella was a contestant on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, season 8, episode 5, which aired on June 14, 2015.
As for the opportunity to be on the Food Network and work with Alton Brown, Grella says it was the experience of a lifetime.
“Alton Brown has always inspired me and shows that with hard work anything is possible, “ said Grella. “Plus, I like that he’s professional and cold on the outside, but there is this sarcastic, warm side right below the surface.”
The Grella family’s skill with dough can be seen on The Dugout’s menu with the selection of flatbreads. Flavor combinations include Margherita ($10.99), blackened shrimp ($12.99) and steak with bleu cheese and caramelized onions ($12.99).
Other items on the dinner menu include sandwiches, wraps and burgers, like the The Bruin with BBQ bacon jam ($11.99), the Eggstra Innings topped with a fried egg and maple aioli ($10.99) and the Pigskin, a sandwich made with bacon wrapped meatloaf, bacon jam and crispy onions ($10.99).
The Dugout also has a good selection of appetizers, like Grella’s favorite recipe for Arancini ($5.99), and Pop Up potato bites, which are like a fried ball of loaded baked potato ($4.99). Also, check out the selection of wings and quesadillas ($7.99-$11.99).
Lunch at The Dugout is designed to be quick and easy, with lighter mid-day portions. On this menu you’ll find combos like a half-flatbread with salad ($7.99), and a half order of chicken nachos ($5.99) along with the Dugout Burger with fries ($6.99).
Grella says the team at The Dugout is excited to be downtown in the former Black Brimmer space. They have to work hard to keep customers happy, he said, because the Queen City has a vibrant food scene, and they are up to the challenge. At The Dugout it is game on.
1087 Elm Street (entrance on Lowell St.)
Website coming soon