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Hanover’s 3 Guys Basement Barbecue Closes

Hanover — 3 Guys Basement Barbecue had its last day this past Sunday, as its owner, Nigel Leeming, has shuttered the restaurant, which despite good reviews hadn’t been making enough money over the summer.

“It wasn’t performing the way I wanted it to, financially, and I didn’t want to put more money in to get it to where it needed to be,” Leeming, who also owns the neighboring Murphy’s on the Green restaurant, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

“I also did not want to harm Murphy’s, which is a very solid business,” he said.

Leeming blamed the restaurant’s closure on its location: out of the way of foot traffic, in Old Nugget Alley around the corner from Dirt Cowboy.

When Leeming opened Murphy’s about 23 years ago, there were seven restaurants in Hanover, he said. Now, including fast food, Boloco, the Hanover Inn and the Irving Station — any place that prepares food — there are 30, Leeming said.

Starting a new business in a saturated market is a challenge to anyone, the restaurant owner said.

“In the slower times, the three to four months a year, that’s when you separate the very successful from those that look like they’re doing great,” Leeming said.

Murphy’s has a broader range of customers than 3 Guys, which relied on students from Dartmouth College for much of its business, he said.

Leeming speculated that the restaurant’s menu — barbecue — had limited its clientele. People looking for healthy food might find it at Murphy’s, but not at 3 Guys, he said.

The next tenant may not have to start from the ground up, as Leeming did in renovating and reopening the space, once occupied by 5 Olde Nugget Alley.

Leeming has been working with his landlord as well as his broker, Bruce Waters, of Lang McLaughry Real Estate, to sell 3 Guys outright.

3 Guys will continue to cater out of Murphy’s, where the kitchen has a smoker that the barbecue business can use, Leeming said, and some of the defunct restaurant’s employees will move over to Murphy’s, including its chef, Brent Battis, who has worked with Leeming for years.

When asked whether he had any more projects in the works, Leeming laughed: No, he didn’t, but he was planning to grow Murphy’s, a business popular enough in Hanover to advertise itself online as “an institution of legendary proportions.”

While it had been a thrill to run 3 Guys, Leeming said that the emotional and financial shock of closing a business tended to take its toll.

“There’s nothing more exciting than designing and opening a restaurant. It’s a real energy burst,” Leeming said. “Closing them isn’t as much fun.”