The winning bidder will receive a $25 gift certificate to a the Common Man restaurant.
The first Common Man Restaurant opened on Main Street in Ashland in 1971. The bank didn’t think too highly of financing the young Alex Ray in this venture, but after a few doses of the Ray enthusiasm and the dedication of one loan officer in particular, it all came together.
The Common Man Ashland could serve all of 35 people in its cozy front dining room. There wasn’t a waiting area or lounge, so patrons would line up outside - even in the winter - and wait for an open table. Alex says he used to run out of the kitchen and peek around the building to see how long the line was. People waiting would look in the door and see customers ordering more coffee. The whisper would then run down the waiting line, “Oh nuts, they’re having more coffee.”
Alex and Jack McCormack were the cooks, and Common Man family Vice President Diane Downing worked in Ashland as a server and bartender. Diane eventually managed Ashland and future locations, and moved into her important role on the leadership team.
In 1974, the carriage house behind the restaurant was converted into more dining space. Now patrons had a warm place to wait for a table! In 1977, Alex and his young family moved out of the rooms above the main restaurant to a farm in Holderness, and Alex converted the space into The Step Above Lounge. The comfortable, family-room like lounge is a local landmark.
In October of 1985, the old Pollard Family home in Lincoln, NH was purchased and an old barn was moved to the site, renovated, and attached for additional dining space. Bing Rogers of Campton, NH constructed an amazing rock fireplace, and 47 days from the date of purchase, Diane and Alex opened the second Common Man Restaurant.
In 1987, the old Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Concord, NH was purchased and renovated, keeping the old-style counter service and turning the rest of the place into a real old-fashioned 50s style diner. The Capital City Diner became a popular local hangout and a must-stop on every politician’s tour of the state.