By Nick B. Reid

Hampton Union, Friday, January 4, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Flatbread Co. is opening a new pizzeria at 61 High St. in Hampton. Pictured are co-owners John Meehan, left, and Jay Gould.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]

HAMPTON — The new Flatbread Co. Pizzeria to open at the old Me & Ollie’s location on High Street should be in business within the next month, according to founder Jay Gould.

The Hampton locale will be the company’s tenth and smallest location yet. Gould said it will feature an outdoor patio with a fire pit. The nearby municipal parking lot allowed the business extra space to implement its outdoor plan.

“We really tried to create a pleasant area out front there,” he said. “It came out nice. We had a local mason do the stonework.”

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the interior of the restaurant before it can open to the public, Gould said.

Flatbread makes natural pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven using organic produce, free-range chicken and nitrate-free meats, as well as vegan and vegetarian options, according to its Web site.

This isn’t the first time Flatbread has eyed a location in Hampton. The company considered opening up shop at the old Lupo’s Seafood and Grille, but it didn’t work out, according to Gould. Now they’ve decided to take up the space vacated by Me & Ollie’s after that business decided not to renew its leasec at 61 High St. a year ago.

The location is just a hundred yards from the Flatbread corporate office, Gould said. Gould, who has lived in North Hampton since 1982, said he and his colleagues originally chose the Hampton area “because most of us are surfers.”

The business puts an emphasis on connecting with the local community and will continue that theme in Hampton with its Tuesday night fundraisers, donating pizzas to meetings of local nonprofits and bringing its mobile oven to local fundraising events. Tuesday night fundraisers support local causes by hosting the event and donating $3.50 from every flatbread sold to the cause.

Flatbread has locations in Portsmouth, North Conway and Amesbury, Mass. to name a few.

Q&A: Owner Jay Gould talks about taking risk, following his vision

By Morey Stettner

Hampton Union, Friday, January 4, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

In 1998, Jay Gould searched for the right restaurant to take his children. He didn’t want fine dining or fast food; he sought something in between. So he took matters into his own hands and opened Flatbread Company in Amesbury, Mass.

Fourteen years later, he owns 10 Flatbread restaurants. Gould, 59, takes an unconventional approach to leading the Hampton-based firm known for its pizza baked in a wood-fired oven and its fondness for organic ingredients.

Question: What was your first job?

Gould: I was a dishwasher at a restaurant in Hampton. Eventually, I graduated to fried clams and onion rings.

Q: Did you always want to open a restaurant?

Gould: For 20 to 25 years, I worked at my family’s insurance business in Amesbury. But I was always interested in business. I read books by people who had founded businesses and I learned from their experiences.

Q: What books?

Gould: Anita Roddick of The Body Shop. Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia. Howard Schultz of Starbucks. I must have read his book 10 times.

Q: When you opened Flatbread, did you expect it would be such a success?

Gould: It was an experiment. I didn’t know it was going to work. People thought I was crazy. My father called it the Titanic. People would ask him, “Where’s Jay?” He’d say, “He’s up at the Titanic.” A doctor I knew came in and said, “This is a big mistake.” Today, some of those very same people say, “I knew it was going to be big. It’s a no-brainer.”

Q: Did anyone say that at the time?

Gould: I had one supporter: My mother. She just believed in me. That’s all.

Q: How did you get the original idea?

Gould: My friend, George Schenk, had a place in Vermont called American Flatbread. It’s still there. He had an open kitchen, which I thought was a great concept. It wasn’t a traditional setup, but I realized it might be relevant in today’s world.

Q: Restaurants are high-risk ventures. You took even more risk by creating a whole new type of place.

Gould: It helps to have a vision and not compromise. We haven’t swayed from that vision. Well, actually, I wanted to put it in the woods with no signs and make it more primitive. But you need to put a restaurant in a commercial district in town. Still, we have no other cooking source except wood. That was supposed to be implausible.

Q: Were you ever tempted to compromise on your vision?

Gould: We think customers are a lot smarter than most businesses think they are. You’re a customer. I’m a customer. We’re not stupid. We know when a business does not do what it’s supposed to do. Businesses suffer when they sit around and say, “Let’s cheapen the product. The customer will never know.” But they’ll know.