Common Man opens grab-and-go eatery at Epsom traffic circle

Deb Gureckis, merchandiser for the Common Man stores, puts up signage on the gas pumps in front of the new Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

Deb Gureckis, merchandiser for the Common Man stores, puts up signage on the gas pumps in front of the new Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Deb Gureckis, merchandiser for the Common Man stores, puts up signage on the gas pumps in front of the new Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday.

Deb Gureckis, merchandiser for the Common Man stores, puts up signage on the gas pumps in front of the new Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

Courtesy

Courtesy Courtesy

The new staff at the Common Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle.

The new staff at the Common Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle. COURTESY—Common Man

Amber Dennis Proulx on her first day of work at the new Common Man Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

Amber Dennis Proulx on her first day of work at the new Common Man Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Amber Dennis Proulx on her first day of work at the new Common Man Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday.

Amber Dennis Proulx on her first day of work at the new Common Man Roadside Market and Deli at the Epsom Circle on Tuesday.

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 01-02-2024 3:32 PM

Modified: 01-06-2024 11:28 AM


The ever-growing Common Man franchise has gotten even bigger.

With 20 sit-down restaurants spread around the Granite State already in his stable, owner Alex Ray now has, as he calls it, a third “touch-and-go” business, this one at the Epsom Traffic Circle.

The Common Man Roadside Market and Deli opened last month, and Ray said it’s been a big hit in an area that routinely draws heavy traffic at the meeting spot of Route 4 and 28, with travelers passing through the circle on their way south to Manchester and east to the Seacoast.

Ray said that he essentially followed the plan that he and business partner Rusty McLear created nine years ago in Hooksett, where the Common Man Roadside lines both sides of Interstate 93.

That, however, features a large central lobby with seating for customers of the Common Man Roadside Deli and the Common Man General Store.

The Epsom facility is geared to a faster-paced lifestyle, as is reflected by the first drive-through window that Ray has ever utilized.

Hand-stretched pizza, hamburgers, salads or sandwiches are offered, and Ray said that online or mobile orders – as opposed to ordering in person – will keep the steady flow that he sees as a vital component of his newest business venture.

This marks the third operation for Ray that has limited seating and does not cater to a restaurant-loving crowd, following openings in Manchester and Plymouth.

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“We looked at the world and we saw that these places are very popular,” Ray said Tuesday. “It hasn’t even been three weeks and we are thrilled. We’ve gone way over our expectations.”

The Epsom site includes an open kitchen for made-to-order meals, a café, pastries, Granite State-based goods, displays with sandwiches, salads and drinks, a coffee bar, a beer cave and some seats for dining.

An expert in public relations, with a reputation for fair treatment of his employees, Ray announced on social media that, “People are so friendly when you show up unannounced with pizza and apple cider donuts. I made the rounds in Epsom today letting people know we are open at the Traffic Circle.”

Altruistic endeavors have forever been a part of Ray’s formula, to help others and his businesses as well, since he opened his first Common Man, in Ashland more than 52 years ago.

He traveled to New Orleans to help after the devasation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Puerto Rico the next year. He also founded a substance abuse-clinic and the Flying Monkey, a performing arts theatre in Plymouth.

His latest mission was helping to fund a program called Common Man for Ukraine that sent food and clothing and other supplies to orphans and children in the war-tattered country, which has been trying to push Russian forces off its eastern front in a bloody war that began nearly two years ago.

These days, at 78 years old and as a restaurateur who has embedded himself into the Granite State landscape through his businesses and charities, Ray’s not sure how much more expanding he’ll do as the owner. He had a heart attack at 33 years old. He’d like the business to stay in the family, and he’s certainly thinking about an alternative lifestyle.

“I’m getting old and looking forward to my own people owning the business,” said Ray, referring to his two daughters and anyone else who’s part of his orbit.

“I’m working on a slow exit. For me, I want a little calmness in my life, not build more restaurants.”