Al Fleury, Restaurateur, Hampton Beach and Portsmouth, NH

Chef Profiles by Rachel Forrest / February, 2019

Restaurateur Al Fleury has created a unique experience in each of his three Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, restaurants and bars. While all are lively and comfortable, each has its own personality. Want a vacation to the Caribbean? Try the seasonal Bernie’s Beach Bar. Get a rustic, down-home feel in The Goat, and walk across the street to Wally’s Pub for some of the best live music on the Seacoast.

Fleury first worked in a restaurant kitchen when he was 13. He had a brief stint working for Merrill Lynch after college. “I was always bartending and I was always working in restaurants even while I was working with them,” he says. “I never really left the restaurant industry and really, the financial industry really wasn’t for me.” Now, he’s brought The Goat and country music to Portsmouth, expanding on a career of entrepreneurship that all started when he was in his early 20s.

When did you go from working for restaurants to owning them?
I bought Wally’s between 2004 and 2005 with a big SBA loan. Wally’s has always been cool, it’s has been around one way or another for a long time. I was glad to be able to take it over. It’s really a blue-collar venue, more beers and burgers with the music. Then I bought Le Bec Rouge and opened Bernie’s Beach Bar in 2013.

We have this vibe. We’re on a beach but there were no beach bars! We’re so lucky to have this beautiful beach out there, so we made a real beach bar. At Bernie’s everything is fresh. Our produce bills are ridiculous. We make all our own purees out of fresh fruit for the drinks. If you want a blueberry mojito, you need to go to Bernie’s.

What vibe did you want from The Goat?
I put the focus on everything fitting the theme of each restaurant. For The Goat in Hampton, we ripped down a barn and used all the barn boards to create the theme. Same with Portsmouth. We’ll have music every night no matter what. There are great country artists but no country music in that market. There are some real talents we’ll bring in.

For the food, in Hampton Beach, The Goat is known for the burgers and in Portsmouth we’ll have that but we’re adding items like bacon flights and expanding the Bloody Mary bar. It’s a place for everyone. What we do well is transition. We can go right from families coming in from The Music Hall and having a burger to switching gears at 9p.m. and kicking off the entertainment for a bachelorette party. Our staff is trained to cover all the bases—happy hour, late night, families. We do that at all the restaurants.

What are some things you love about the restaurant business?
I like making a “night” out of something that was not there before. We’ll have 10 cent wings at Wally’s on a Wednesday and 500 people are there. The twin lobsters on Tuesdays at Bernie’s—everyone comes for that and it makes something out of nothing special. Even a casual day is fun. For some people it might be their only day out for a month, and our staff makes it fun and special even on a casual day. The thing I like most is not messing up the big days. It’s 80 degrees out, it’s a Saturday, there’s a line out the door at Bernie’s, there’s a great band at Wally’s like GodSmack and everyone’s at The Goat before or after. I love the big days.

Wally’s Pub
144 Ashworth Avenue
Hampton Beach, N.H.

Bernie’s Beach Bar
73 Ocean Boulevard
Hampton Beach, N.H.

The Goat
20 L Street
Hampton Beach, N.H.
142 Congress Street
Portsmouth, NH