HammerSignThe Rusty Hammer has always been a favorite place for Crystal and Ryan as long as they have lived in Portsmouth. Crystal moved to Portsmouth in 2003 and began working at The Rusty Hammer as a server. Ryan moved to Dover in 2005 and had his first beer in Portsmouth at The Rusty Hammer. A certain server caught his eye and here we are.


In 2006, Ryan moved to Portsmouth after purchasing Googie’s Sandwich Shoppe and Portsmouth Provisions market. Looking for a change after years on the road in medical sales, he met with his childhood friend about taking over the deli and store. Shortly thereafter, Ryan met Crystal again as a customer in the deli and store. Now working part time at The Rusty Hammer and full time as a legal assistant in town, Ryan did not see Crystal at the restaurant as often. So seeing her at his businesses helped keep the spark aflame.

Ryan finally worked up the nerve to ask Crystal out on a date in the November of 2007. Soon after, Crystal left her job as a legal assistant and joined Ryan full-time in the deli and store. It became very obvious early that their meeting was serendipitous and that the journey would take them back to where it all began.

the rusty hammerOwning an establishment like The Rusty Hammer was always a dream of Ryan’s. Grandson to Irish immigrants who landed and met in Northampton, MA, entrepreneurship was passed down from his paternal grandfather. Owner of a landscaping company, convenience store and Pat and Matt’s tavern in Hartford, CT, Ryan’s grandfather seemed to have a paved a pathway for him of which he was unaware.

When Crystal and Ryan heard that The Rusty Hammer was for sale, it became imperative that this opportunity not pass by and that the business is acquired at all costs. Although the process was often at times more than they thought they could handle, Crystal and Ryan pushed on while managing their four businesses and raising their three young children. Facing challenge after challenge with the renovation, often times wanting to throw in the towel, they knew that this was meant to be and pushed forward.

After the longest summer of their lives, with little free time for themselves or their family, Crystal and Ryan’s dream finally came to life on September 10, 2014, when the doors of The Rusty Hammer were reopened to the public. The idea of what The Rusty Hammer has always been important to Crystal and Ryan. Seeing no need to reinvent the wheel, they merely sought the opportunity to have the torch passed down from Rusty and Billy and continue to offer “Good Food – Hearty Drink” to the residents and visitors to Portsmouth. So come on in and have a bite or a drink and take yourself back to the early 1980’s when The Rusty Hammer was in the same space you see it today. Take in the renovations and the atmosphere. Hopefully when you leave, you will realize why Crystal and Ryan found The Rusty Hammer to be such a special place and that preserving this landmark was not a desire but rather a necessity.