Hazell Nut Café: Nine Years and Counting
It is the start of another semester and a time where new managers for the Hazell Nut Café show up on campus, two weeks ahead, wanting to ensure they can answer the standing first day of school question that comes from faculty, students, and staff…”when is the Café opening?”
It is hard to believe that 10 years ago ’83 alumnus Jeffery Hazell, had the vision that UNH-HTM should have a small coffee shop to allow students to learn the total entrepreneurship skillsets before they leave college instead of the traditional post-graduation trial and error approach. An entrepreneur, Jeff understood the importance of practicing sound hospitality business knowledge while still in college. Soon after graduating, he opened his business with a modest lobster tank in his garage. Today, he is the owner of Bar Harbor Lobster Company, the largest seafood distributor in South Florida; Boston Lobster Feast restaurant with locations in Orlando and Kissimmee; and Clawdaddy’s food truck serving premium lobster rolls at locations throughout Disney World.
Opened in 2007, the Hazell Nut Café is designed to be 100% student operated. Students manage the daily operations, calculate business profitability, engage in daily marketing and deciding on future product offerings. While students meet weekly with their supervisor – Academic Director of Foodservices – Chris Gentile, they ultimately must make the daily operations and business decisions using the sales data. They must also train the staff and work to ensure effective customer service.
Originally only offering coffee and pastries the business quickly outgrew this premise and and faculty, staff, and students were looking for more. Renovated and expanded in the Fall of 2012, the new café continues the tradition of signature coffee drinks and pastries but expands into sandwiches, salads, and movie themed pizzas from the Eat-Pray-Love to The Godfather. Our own branded beverages, Charger Water and Charger Soda, and the daily $5 special round out the menu.
The café has become the hang out spot for HTM students and customers alike. The Hazell Nut Café is also the experience that many of our students describe as the moment they know this industry is indeed in their future. As we look forward to our 10th anniversary in February 2017 we plan to spend the year further refining our procedures, updating the menu, and providing a quality experience where our students leave understanding themselves as leaders and managers with bright futures.