Hawk's Nest reaches its golden anniversary
PRINCESS ANNE, MD – (Sept. 26, 2012) – A front-page article published in The Marylander and Herald newspaper 50 years ago this month announced the opening of a new business – and what perhaps was a seminal moment in Somerset County history.
William P. Hytche, a young math professor at then-Maryland State College, and his wife, Deloris, opened a restaurant on the outskirts of campus called The Hawk’s Nest, a name that endures today as an on-campus sandwich shop and snack bar.
Just like the restaurant's name, Hytche and his wife would become fixtures in Princess Anne and at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where he was the institution's top administrator from 1975 until 1997.
In his 1999 memoir, Hytche wrote that he started the business on Broad Street, which eventually would be renamed in his honor, out of frustration. Local restaurateurs in the early 1960s resisted or refused to serve blacks.
Understandably, students knew they were not welcome at those establishments. Hytche saw an opportunity to fill that void. After all, as a young man in his native Oklahoma, he supplemented his income as a high school teacher by operating a restaurant.
Hytche reluctantly re-entered the restaurant business in Princess Anne because he recognized Maryland State students needed a place to get a bite to eat and socialize.
That his foray into business warranted a front-page article in the local weekly newspaper in 1962 was itself remarkable, and perhaps an early indication of the level of respect he already was starting to earn in the community.
“At one time” Hytche wrote in his presidential memoir, “We had the largest payroll for blacks in Somerset County, excluding the university.”
Jaqueta Hytche-Simms, his daughter, remembers working alongside her siblings in their parents' restaurant.
"We were free labor," she said with a laugh. "But I have a lot of fond memories of those days." Her favorite dish was pulled pork featuring a secret family-recipe sauce only her nephew knows.
The Hytche children and grateful alumni talk fondly of the original Hawk’s Nest, and how hungry students with little or no money gravitated to the eatery.
"Daddy never turned away anyone," Jaqueta Hytche-Simms said.