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Meet The Maker: The Tuohy Brothers

June 12, 2017
By: Lindsay Elitharp
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Brothers Joe and Josh Tuohy outside the original Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Brothers Joe and Josh Tuohy outside the original Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

How The Salt hill Pub Restaurateurs Do Business

The Hanover Salt hill Pub was short-staffed. Josh Tuohy hopped on the line and started cooking. When he noticed the dishes getting backed up, he jumped in the dish pit and got to work. When the dishwasher arrived, he was surprised when a coworker informed him the man washing dishes was one of the owners. "You own this?" Josh remembers the dishwasher asking. "Well yeah, but I also work here," Josh laughs, recalling the exchange. "If something needs to get done, I'm not just going to sit there, look at it and say 'Hey you, go do that." "That type of style--it lets everybody know we're all in," adds older brother and co-owner of the Salt hill Pubs, Joe Tuohy.

All in is how the Tuohy brothers built their enterprise. No strangers to the industry, Joe and Josh grew up working in their family's restaurant, The Shanty Chalet. The brothers continued to work in the industry after The Shanty Chalet closed in 1991 but didn't begin talking about opening their own place until 2000. For Josh, "It was like, 'Everybody got out of this business except us. We’re still in it, we should do something more. We should open a place."

"For me, no one else would give me a good job, so I thought we’d better do it for ourselves," Joe jokes, "It was always an aspiration...We just thought it was time to stake out on our own and make it happen." The Tuohys opened their first location in Lebanon, New Hampshire in 2003. Since then, they've opened restaurants in Newport, Hanover, Newbury, and most recently, West Lebanon.

Brothers and owners of the Salt hill Pub restaurants, Josh and Joe Tuohy. A picture of the brothers from earlier days and a traditional Irish blessing, just some of the memorabilia on display at Salt hill Pub Lebanon.

A picture of the brothers from earlier days and a traditional Irish blessing, just some of the memorabilia on display at Salt hill Pub Lebanon.

The brothers didn't plan on expanding when they first set out. "We planned for survival," says Joe. "This is a tough industry. More people fail than not...It’s not that we’re not confident in what we do, we just said 'Let’s focus on what we’re doing today," Josh adds. The brothers worked every position, every day, and focused on putting any financial gain into improving the restaurant. "Anything we were making, we were putting it back in. We lived here basically, so we weren’t spending any money that we had. We were very frugal about it, very practical," Josh explains. The opportunity came to expand the kitchen and create a private space for parties and meetings, now known as the Galway Room. New locations followed as opportunities arose, though Josh notes, "We say no to many more than we say yes to."

Joe Tuohy credits their success to their entrepreneurial spirit and their genuine love of the industry. “I haven’t had a lot of other job experiences. I’ve been a restaurant guy since I was 5 or 6 years old. But every time those rushes happen, it’s a little victory. You win, you win as a team. It’s addicting because there aren’t a lot of opportunities for people to win every day.”

Josh views success in the restaurant industry as the result of hard work and a willingness to learn. "There’s not a lot of industries like ours, in which if you want to do a good job, you can," says Josh. "I can’t be a physics scholar, I’m not going to be a rocket scientist, but in general with the skills that we have and that we’re trying to teach and train, if you’re earnest and willing to work hard, you can do a lot in this industry, and you can move up."

The Salt hill Pub has five locations in New Hampshire. Each pub offers Irish-American comfort food, perfect pints, good humor and live music. Hours vary by location, visit Salt hill Pub online for details.

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