We are a favorite spot for Portsmouth locals and visitors alike. Come in to relax, watch a game, socialize and enjoy our seasonal menu and try one of our wide variety of ice cold beers on tap.
The Rusty Hammer first opened its doors in 1978 a few doors down from its current location on Pleasant Street. After a few years, proprietors Rusty Hammer and Bill MacMillan moved into the current location on the corner of Pleasant Street and State Street, formerly occupied by the Schwartz Fur and Apparel retail store. The restaurant then expanded in 1992 by leasing the adjacent space. The Rusty Hammer operated in this space until April of 2014 when Rusty and Billy sold the restaurant to local residents and longtime customers, Crystal and Ryan Cronin. Due to failed lease negotiations with the owner of the adjacent space, the decision was made to return the restaurant to its original design.
The goal Rusty and Billy had when they opened The Rusty Hammer was to provide great food in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Known for the “Wimpy” burgers, the menu also offers appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrees and house specials. The Rusty Hammer became a meeting place, a place to watch a game, a place to grab a burger and two beers for under $20. It became a place to socialize, to kick back and relax, to fit in Served by several long-term staff members, The Rusty Hammer has been a locals favorite for almost four decades and remains a Portsmouth landmark.
Renovations for the restaurant began on April 24, 2014 and continued until September of 2014. Lots of improvements were needed to make the original space more functional and to meet new building codes. Special attention was made to preserve the ”neighborhood bar” feel to which customers had become accustomed.
One special feature of the restaurant that was an immediate concern to Crystal and Ryan was the custom iron light fixtures that hung over the bar. When the bar was moved five feet down to make room for the server station, the lights were no longer centered over the bar. Needing light in the server station as well as over the bar, a solution was needed that met the lighting needs and the look of the existing lighting. After a little digging, it was learned that the iron light fixtures were constructed by local blacksmith, Peter Happny. Peter built the two existing lights for the Schwartz Fur and Apparel Store over 40 years ago. After a quick phone call with Peter, he was in the next day to trace an existing fixture and within a couple weeks, the lighting issue was resolved. Now three beautiful, custom made iron light fixtures hang over the bar adding to the character of the restaurant.
Also unique to the restaurant is the original tin ceiling on both the first and second floors. Stained yellow by years of cigarette smoke, a gold-based metallic paint was hand-brushed on to bring back to the look of the original ceiling and adding to the warm, comfortable atmosphere.
Highlighting the restaurant overhaul was the installation of the brand-new custom built 32 draft line tower hanging on the back wall of the downstairs bar. Craft beer has become somewhat of a craze in recent years and offering less than 10 different draft options no longer met the needs of today’s beer drinker. Wanting more, different and unique options, the beers are continuously rotated to keep the options exciting and the customers checking back. Look closely and you’ll see the tower is actually a hammer.