Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pleasant stop for travelers at Welcome Center in Hooksett

After the old man crumbled to the ground so many years ago all seemed bleak for the New Hampshire travel industry. Our state icon was gone and there wasn't much that anybody could do about it. Additionally, the state rest areas seemed to be sorely in need of updating. There was some recent good news with the completion of the welcome center in Hooksett but is this new rest area something granite staters can be proud of?

A partnership between the Common Man restaurants and the state, all of the operations are handled by the C Man except for the liquor store. You didn't expect the state to give up that revenue did you? It has been a long road to completion and the new welcome centers finally opened earlier this year.

So with one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, Labor Day, on the horizon and leaf peeping season on the way this seemed like as good a time as any to find out how they did. Needless to say we have been to a lot of travel plazas over the years and most people look for the basics, gasoline, clean rest rooms and a quick decent bite to eat so they can get back on the road to arrive at their destination.

You can't blame Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man for getting involved. It seems a stroke of genius, everywhere throughout the facility you see their name mentioned seemingly speaking and advertising to travelers, don't forget our 16 restaurants all located in New Hampshire and close to where ever you are going.

Now for the details, we visited the Welcome Center on the northbound side that includes the Common Man Food Court, Hi-Way Diner, Merrimack County Savings Bank, League of New Hampshire Craftsman Gift Shop, General Store and Irving gas pumps and, of course, the liquor store. If you are traveling the other way you will find the same going the opposite direction on I93.

We found the facility to be very clean and the Common Man employees that we met were friendly and polite. There is nothing worse for a tired traveler than finding rude people at a rest area but here they seem to have done their work training staff to make sure they treat visitors with respect and kindness.

If you are looking for decent quick food made fresh from what we saw they have this covered. Our order from the Common Man Food Court was a small French fry, cheeseburger and a cheesesteak.

The sandwiches were made to order in front of us:

In addition to grilled items and sandwiches you will also find salads, pizza and desserts.

The Highway Diner on the other side has much of the same and includes dinners.

Overall we think they have designed and developed a pleasant stop for travelers driving through central New Hampshire. We hope that this is only the beginning of more improvements that might be on the way for other rest areas in the Granite State.