As a restaurant concept, The Hampton Social taps into several key consumer trends, from coastal cuisine, and the relaxed lifestyle to Instagram-ready design elements and all things rosé. The brand was inspired by the tony Eastern Long Island towns that well-heeled New Yorkers flock to in the summer, though the first location opened eight years ago in Chicago.
The timing was fortunate in terms of the rosé revival in the U.S.: In 2014 it was widely reported that the Hamptons were running out of rosé as the rich and famous downed copious amounts of the pink drink. It probably didn’t hurt that rock star Jon Bon Jovi was part of a French rosé wine brand initially called Diving Into Hampton Water that launched in 2018, and further connected the Hamptons with rosé.
In fact, Hampton Water is one of the most popular rosés at The Hampton Social, says Gregory Innocent, corporate beverage director for parent company Parker Hospitality. Whispering Angel is another guest favorite rosé brand.
How important is rosé to The Hampton Social? Innocent says that 65% of the brand’s wine sales come from rosé. All eight locations, which stock 28 different rosés, boast a wall of roses and a “Rosé All Day” sign that consistently pops up on guests’ Instagram feeds.
The Hampton Social even celebrates National Rosé Month in June with a Rosé Hotline to answer consumer questions about the wine. Innocent, who answers the phone live every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7p.m. in June, shares his tips and tricks for buying and drinking rosé. This will be the third year of the rosé hotline, Innocent says. “It’s been a very effective activation.”
Despite the rosé focus, most of The Hampton Social’s alcohol sales (78%) comes from liquor and cocktails; 20% comes from wine and 2% from beer. But rosé makes its way into several cocktails, such as the house-made Frosé, with Tito’s vodka, rosé wine and peach purée, Innocent says. At press time it was launching a green Frosé to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Another popular cocktail is the I Glitterally Can’t, with strawberry gin, sparkling rosé, Passoã passion fruit liqueur, lemon and glitter balls. Both drinks are priced at $16.
Other specialty drinks include the Honey Cove ($16), with tea-infused bourbon, Giffard apricot liqueur, lemon and honey, and the Gardner’s Bay Breeze ($17) with citrus-infused Sneaky Fox vodka, Aperol, spiced strawberry and lemon. The cocktails are also available in large-format scalloped seashell vessels, which serve up to three guests and are priced from $42 to $51.
In keeping with current trends and guest preferences, The Hampton Social offers zero-proof drinks, such as a nonalcoholic sparkling rosé ($8), with notes of peach, strawberry and pear, and the Sand Dunes & Sunsets ($10), with yuzu, lime, cayenne and gold flakes. Specialty brunch drinks include the Route 27 Mule, with vodka, salted banana, lime and ginger beer, priced at $15 a glass and $42 a seashell.
Shareable seafood delights
The beverage menu changes twice a year, Innocent says. The specialty cocktails are the same at all locations, but the beer and wine are different per market; popular brews include IPAs, amber ales and wheat beer.
“Nashville is the only location that features a heavy allocated whiskey list,” says Innocent. It also has the most allocations of the coveted Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in the Nashville market.
As for the food, seafood naturally is key: Small plates “to share and socialize” include grilled octopus, crab and shrimp bruschetta and oysters St. Charles. Large plates include balsamic-glazed skirt steak ($39), scallop risotto ($35) and roasted chicken ($27).
Among the popular items are the lobster roll, smash burger and shrimp tacos, says Innocent, who joined the company in 2016.
The sparkling seafood tower, with oysters, shrimp cocktail, snow crab claws, tartare, ceviche — which comes with a half bottle of sparkling rosé — is also a hit with guests, he says.
A shore thing
Chicago-based Parker Hospitality operates the Hampton Social, as well as live music lounge The Bassment and Mediterranean concept Nisos. The company announced last fall it was opening Costera, a restaurant that aims to bring the flavors and energy of Mexico’s Tulum to Chicago.
Owner Brad Parker opened the first Hampton Social restaurant in 2015 with the idea of creating a lifestyle brand geared to women. Rather than a Tiki-style tropical island escape, Hampton Social captures a more New England-style aesthetic: light, airy spaces with coastal garden flourishes that evoke a seaside vacation vibe, and provide plenty of social media photo ops.
In addition to two restaurants in Chicago, Hampton Social now has locations in Burr Ridge, IL; Skokie, IL; South Barrington, IL; Nashville; Naples, FL; and Orlando, FL. It plans to open a unit in Delray Beach, FL, in March, and one in Miami this summer. A Denver outpost is also scheduled for later in 2023 and one in Atlanta for 2024.
The company’s ambitious plans for the Hampton Social brand were temporarily thwarted by the pandemic. “Leases that were signed on constructions for all those projects were on hold, and nothing was able to move forward for a while,” Innocent says. The Covid-related supply chain issues didn’t help matters.
But Parker Hospitality, which expects to bring in $117 million in revenue this year, is back in growth mode. Brad Parker has said that he wants 60 or 70 Hampton Socials across the U.S. That’s still a goal for the company, Innocent says.
Where will the next locations be? “We are considering all areas,” Innocent says. “[Brad Parker] is currently focused on Dallas and Denver.