Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hazel's. A Life Lesson.

Day 8

This is the quintessential Maine roadside lobster roll joint. This is Hazel's, and Hazel's is everything that is right about America. Let me explain...

We had been out for a sightseeing jaunt to the Owl's Head light house and were very hungry and a couple of us were in urgent need, facilities. Then we saw this cheerful, brightly painted lobster shack and since we had been in Maine for a week without eating a lobster roll, we decided to give it a try. Although I was looking forward to the food, I wasn't crazy about having to use a roadside eatery bathroom. We've all been there, right? You've been driving for five hours, you pull off at an exit to get gas and go to the can. You go inside to get the key to the bathroom...the one on the giant, filthy key ring. Then you open the door and get hit with the aroma of the combined urine of 10,000 of your fellow human beings, since it's been at least ten years since anyone has cleaned the place. Well, at Hazel's, they have a different idea. "How about let's make our unisex bathroom the cleanest place on Earth?"

I'm not kidding people. I could have eaten my lunch off the floor. The toilet looked as clean as the holy water bowl at the Vatican. The sink had a glossy shine to someone had spent the day polishing it especially for my visit. The place smelled like Mr. Clean and Windex had had an all-nighter in there. It was like no bathroom I have ever entered even in the finest restaurants in the world! But, that wasn't the only thing about Hazel's that was clean.

The place had a huge all gravel parking lot...with not one single solitary weed peaking through the rocks, not one! How is that even possible? The picnic tables, all neatly painted in their signature red and yellow colors, were emaculate. Even the condiment bar was free of trash or even spilled sugar. Frankly, it was almost scary! Then, we met the owners, a couple of retirees who run this place just for fun during the summer months, then drive down to Florida for the winter. They were doing this...for fun.  And they were having plenty of it! The person ahead of me in line ordered the "cowboy burger" and the entire kitchen staff suddenly burst into an uproarious Yeee-Hawwwww!!! The kitchen staff consisted of the owner, his wife and their daughter, who all acted like they were ecstatic that we had chosen Hazel's for lunch.

But, friendliness and insane cleanliness can get you but so far in the food business. Then the spunky daughter brought out our meal...

For the uninitiated...this is a lobster roll. It's ingredients are few...a toasted bun, a boatload of lobster meat( with no filler nonsense ) maybe a piece of lettuce, and some mayonnaise to keep it together. That's it. It's lobster without all of the work of cracking shells and picking around internal organs and what not. And it is ridiculously delicious.

I am always fascinated by well run small businesses and couldn't help but have a conversation with the owner. She was a delight. Hazel's was named for their black lab, Hazel, and was their seventh and last business. They were retired. They ran the place during the summer for the fun of it. When I complimented her on how fantastically clean the place was she said, " Well, over the years we've found that there are two things you can do that don't cost you anything...keep a clean place and be friendly.

And, have fun, apparently. Yee-Hawwww!!