New owner, same vibe – soft opening set for March 14.
MANCHESTER, NH – Eric Maxwell is not interested in reinventing the wheel. But he’s ready to kick the tires on a new venture and fulfill his dream of owning a restaurant.
As a longtime customer of Campo Enoteca, the Nashua native instantly connected with the Italian/Mediterranean cuisine and aesthetic, from the first time he entered the place.
That’s why Maxwell decided to re-open the popular Elm Street eatery just as previous owners Ed Aloise and Claudia Rippee left it. He recently purchased the entire business – recipes included.
“We’re really excited,” Maxwell said, last week, taking a brief break from the immediate order of business: preparing for a soft re-opening March 14 under his management.
Maxwell has years of experience on the business side of the food industry, currently serving in a senior finance leadership position for a local food manufacturing company. He says he’s not worried about the day-to-day logistics.
“That’s where my sister comes in,” he says of his General Manager, Erin Maxwell Covery. “She’s run restaurants in the area, and the Italian side of our family has run successful restaurants in Western Pennsylvania. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Since firming up the deal Feb. 20, Maxwell has been getting his ducks – or in this case, Campo’s crowd-pleasing chicken, seafood and pasta recipes – in a row.
Maxwell says he’s worked closely with Aloise and Rippee and is keeping on many of the Campo staff members. He is going for continuity and consistency – and will gradually add some of his own family’s authentic Italian dishes to the menu.
The urge to own his own place has been simmering on a backburner for the past few years.
“Realistically I’ve been very successful at running companies for someone else so I always wanted to venture on my own and make a company successful with ownership,” Maxwell says.
He considered a few different opportunities in food manufacturing and restaurants that came his way, but none of them fit the bill.
“Some were a good fit monetarily but wouldn’t have brought out the best in me,” he says.
“I’m a wine and martini drinker, not a burger and beer kind of guy, and I was in love with Campo’s approach to the food, the homemade pasta – all of it. I felt like it had my name all over it,” Maxwell says.
He started looking seriously at the idea of buying Campo when he learned it was for sale last summer, but as soon as he saw that Aloise and Rippee had decided to retire at the end of the year, he saw his future.
On a personal note, Maxwell has longtime roots in the community, as a treasurer for local nonprofits and as a youth sports coach, coaching basketball, baseball, football and soccer. He is a single dad of two, Jamison, 11, and Alanna 9.
And while his kids are still on the young side of knowing what their future holds, Maxwell is hopeful that the family restaurant legacy can continue.
“Some of the restaurants in my family have passed from one generation to the next. That’s something I’ve always wanted – and maybe this will be the start of that,” Maxwell says.
Maxwell knows expectations will be high – especially among the Campo faithful. But he is confident that the quality of the experience will continue.
“I would say to loyal customers of Campo that Ed and Claudia are by my side throughout the transition. We have a great chef staff in place with a lot of Italian background – including my sister. The atmosphere will remain the same, as will the experience,” Maxwell says.
And Aloise is rooting for Maxwell’s success.
“Eric and his sister Erin are very enthusiastic about keeping as much of the essence of Campo Enoteca as possible. Claudia and I have passed on the core of the operation, from recipes to operating procedures. I am aware that a few staff members will be coming back and I hope that is the case,” Aloise says. “I wish them all success.”
The only immediate change will be the addition of weekend lunch hours starting at noon.
“We’re pretty much all staffed up – I’m looking for a little bit of Sunday help. That will be something new for Campo,” he says.
Campo Enoteca is located at 969 Elm St., Manchester, NH
Sat-Sun 12-9 p.m. with a new lunch menu
Tues. Fri – 4-9 p.m.