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SAWTOOTH KITCHEN BAR & STAGE: Where Fine Food, Art, and Nightlife Meet in Hanover

Mar 14, 2023 05:20PM ● By Wren Wahrenberger

Kieran Campion, general manager of the Sawtooth Kitchen, Bar, and Stage, has always dreamed of opening a night club in Hanover, but he envisioned a space with some added culture. “It was something my father (Jay Campion) and I have been talking about for as long as I can remember,” he says. The father/son partners wanted to create an artsy space where the community and the college crowd could come together, relax, and enjoy fine food, drinks, and entertainment. “We live in a college town without any kind of nightlife,” Kieran says. He plans to change that with entertainment three nights a week on the Sawtooth Kitchen stage and a 1am weekend closing time for night owls.

Finding Their Crowd

“We are the last place standing,” Kieran jokes. “It feels like over the course of the night, we have several different businesses here,” he adds, explaining the progression of a typical busy evening at Sawtooth Kitchen, which also has a thriving take-out business. Families come for the sit-down dinner hours and generally head home by 8 or 9pm, when the “show crowd” comes and the entertainment starts—or the music is turned up for dancing. In addition to bands and DJ party nights, Sawtooth has hosted stand-up comedy nights, Dartmouth student creative writing recitations, and a number of private parties, including 100 medical students celebrating Taylor Swift’s newest album drop. The club has also hosted a social swing-dance night with an instructor, and they hope to collaborate with their neighbors, Still North Books & Bar, on author readings. Kieran looks forward to theater, poetry, and karaoke nights on the stage. Upcoming events are posted on their website, and tickets can be purchased in advance, like ordering from the take-out menu.When everything else in town closes around 11pm on weekends, the “industry crowd,” who have just gotten off work from surrounding establishments, joins the party. “We’re doing really well,” Kieran says. “Definitely finding a crowd.” Bar manager Nate Barsanti says of the restaurant, “It bridges the gap between casual and something upscale. It succeeds in catering to a wide demographic.”

Bringing the Community and the College Together

The central location on Allen Street makes Sawtooth easily accessible for students and locals, and the unique shape of the building, which houses My Brigadeiro and Still North Books & Bar upstairs, is how they came up with the name. “It’s an architectural joke,” says Kieran. “The profile of the building does a little zigzag along Allen Street, and that saw shape extends down into the kitchen of the restaurant, hence the name Sawtooth Kitchen.”

Kieran acknowledges that the primary function of his business is the restaurant, with the entertainment “as an accessory,” and he says he has worked in the restaurant business since he was 16. However, his career was in the entertainment industry as an actor in New York and talent agent in Chicago, so his interest was piqued by “the entertainment side of things” when his dad recruited him to manage the new restaurant. They opened in
mid-September of 2022. 

“My dad is the idea man. This was a project that he started the ball rolling on two and a half years ago,” says Kieran. Jay Campion co-owns the building with other family members, and when the space on the lower level remained unrented during the pandemic, he saw the opportunity,
according to Kieran, to create the night club that he and his son had always wanted. Kieran remembers fondly when the club space was once the lower level of the Dartmouth Bookstore, where he bought his first complete set of William Shakespeare’s works. “I want it to be a place where people come and create,” he says, “where we can bring the community and the college together. There has been a town and
college divide. The essence is having a place where the two communities can come together in a creative way.” 

To make that happen, Kieran knew he had to make people feel comfortable in the space. He used warm colors and lighting for the soothing décor. A central wall is painted with an eye-catching mountain vista, which, along with the saw-shaped logo, makes customers feel like they are at a club at Sundance after a day of skiing. The wide stairwell, with handicapped accessibility, welcomes people off the street and brings them down into a world where the acoustics and insulation guarantee the noise of a dance band will not disturb the neighbors.

Good Food, Cozy Vibes

Kieran is extremely proud of the menu his restaurant offers. He worked tirelessly with his chef, Stephen Roberts, who previously worked at Market Table, developing dishes that would be popular with his diverse clientele. He says they “held public tastings and took surveys for data collection to help build a menu that people liked.” Popular menu items include the Sawtooth Signature Chicken Sandwich with boneless fried chicken and special Sawtooth Sauce, as well as the ribs, and the fried chicken meal with biscuits and sides. The menu has plenty of vegan and gluten-free options as well, like the Sweet Potato Relleno entrée and Falafel Waffle appetizer. Other fancy entrees, including the Beet Rizzo Salmon and the venison with shitake mushrooms provide enticement for those with discerning palates. Currently, the restaurant takes reservations for larger parties of eight or more. 

“What’s most unique about the restaurant is that it’s different every day,” Kieran says. He notes that the tables may be moved or a divider put up for certain events, and they may add menu items. “It will feel special and new every time you come in, but the consistent thing is good food and cozy vibes.”

Sawtooth Kitchen, Bar,
and Stage

Under Allen Street
Hanover, NH
(603) 643-5134

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