The Common Man family has been known throughout New Hampshire for serving honest food at honest prices, WOW guest service and being a cornerstone in the community since 1971.
Owner Alex Ray has never been one to shy away from an ambitious project, and when the State of New Hampshire put out to bid the renovation of the state welcome centers on both sides of Interstate 93 in Hooksett, Ray and his business partner Rusty McLear of Mill Falls at the Lake in Meredith took a chance and submitted a proposal.
After the state completed the bidding process, Ray and McLear’s plans were selected, and the unique public-private partnership was underway. The renovation of the Hooksett Welcome Centers began with a groundbreaking in October of 2013.
Partnering with all New Hampshire businesses, from Samyn D’Elia Architects to Conneston Construction to Meredith Village/Merrimack County Savings Bank, they made a conscious effort to keep as much talent, labor and materials New Hampshire-based as possible. The team worked closely with many New Hampshire agencies, including the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission and the Governor’s office, to ensure the new buildings best represented the state.
The unique mill building architectural design of the buildings on both sides of the highway include expanded NH Liquor & Wine Outlets, the addition of Irving Fuel Pumps, Tesla electric car chargers, 24-hour NH General Stores, Common Man Roadside Food Courts and 50’s style Hi-Way Diners, interactive Visit NH information desks and enlarged and efficient rest rooms. Unique to the northbound facility, which was named in honor of New Hampshire’s late Executive Councilor Raymond Burton, is a Merrimack County Savings Bank branch and 24-hour ATM, and a League of N.H. Craftsmen retail store. The southbound center includes a 24-hour ATM and features a large water wheel reconstructed locally.
Under a 35-year ground lease with the State of New Hampshire, The Common Man family of restaurants funded the design and construction, and will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of both Welcome Centers, with the exception of the NH Liquor and Wine Outlet stores, which will be funded and operated by the NH Liquor Commission. The project has generated an estimated 137 full-time jobs.