Rededication of Hazell Nut Café

Samantha Mathewson

President Kaplan recognized Jeff Hazell as one of the University’s most successful graduates during the rededication of the Hazell Nut Café Friday, April 19.

President Kaplan and Jeff Hazell at the rededication of Hazell Nut Cafe (photo by Samantha Mathewson).

The ceremony started at 5:30 p.m. in the Center for Sustainable Innovative Entrepreneurship in Maxcy Hall where refreshments and appetizers were served.

What started out as Professor Juline Mills’ office, has since been turned into a successful and prospering student-run and managed restaurant in Maxcy Hall on campus—the Hazell Nut Café. Hazell was shocked at all Mills has been able to accomplish with such a small space.

Mills put the event together along with her student-based staff from the Hazell Nut Café, who catered the event. Various types of pizza that are sold in the Café were sampled by quests, along with other appetizers featuring two of their salad specials, “Get him to the Greek,” and “The Vow,” and a sandwich sampler of “The Hancock.” Lobster and shrimp were also served for quests, since that is Hazell’s specialty.

“Jeff’s support helped established the Hazell Nut Café in 2007 to provide students an opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom. The entirely student-run operation has helped reinforce the University’s reputation as a national leader in experiential education,” said President Kaplan. “Jeff’s longstanding support has also helped our Hospitality and Tourism Management program develop into one of the region’s finest.”

Renovations of the Café were completed over winter break. New equipment was installed and the menu was upgraded to provide a true restaurant-quality experience for faculty and students. Since opening, the menu in the Hazell Nut Café has featured many new specials including some with seafood donated by Hazell.

Hazell learned firsthand about the importance of hands-on learning when he participated in a Disney World restaurant internship as an undergraduate at UNH. The experience provided the foundation for his more than three decades worth of involvement in the restaurant industry.

Soon after graduating, Hazell opened his own company, Bar Harbor Lobster, which he developed into Florida’s largest distributor of New England seafood. He is also the founder of the Boston Lobster Feast restaurant with locations in Orlando and Kissimmee. He recently launched the Clawdaddy’s food truck that serves premium lobster rolls at locations throughout Disney World.

In 2007, Jeff received a Distinguished Alumni Award from UNH. In 2010, the University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree. Hazell is also the generous donor whose many gifts have also funded Jefferey’s Fusion Restaurant in Harugari Hall.

Hazell’s fellow Board of Governors members and their spouses, along with Hazell’s girlfriend Alexis Torres and her son, Juliun Williams, were there to celebrate the rededication with him and unveil the plaque in his honor, which will be hung in the Café.

Mills spoke in recognition and appreciation for all that Hazell has contributed and donated to, not only the Café, but also the Hospitality and Tourism Management program. It would not be what it is today, and possibly not even exist, without all of Hazell’s support.

Mills then introduced her management staff of the Hazell Nut Café. They all took turns describing their positions and responsibilities at the Café. They thanked Hazell “for opportunities he has given them and all the experiences they have been able to have because of all he has contributed.”

After the plaque unveiling, a tour of the café was given for the guests to see all the recent improvements.