The Hawks' Nest
A front-page article published in The Marylander and Herald newspaper in September 1962 announced the opening of a new business – and what perhaps was a seminal moment in the history of commerce in Princess Anne.
William P. Hytche, a young math professor at then-Maryland State College, and his wife, Deloris, opened a sandwich shop on the edge of campus called The Hawks' Nest, a name that endures as an on-campus snack bar at the institution's 125th anniversary.
Just like the restaurant's name, Hytche and his wife became 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 adult 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.
He set up shop in the block between Somerset Avenue – known then as old Route 13 – and Beechwood Street across from Metropolitan United Methodist Church. He served barbecue, submarine sandwiches and chicken.
That his foray into business warranted a front-page article in the local weekly newspaper in 1962 was in itself remarkable, and perhaps an early indication of the level of respect he 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," Hytche-Simms said.
Eventually, the Hawks' Nest brand expanded to include several locations where patrons could dine on an expanded menu that included shrimp and fish, get a haircut, buy used books, or dance the night away at what was known in that era as a “juke joint.” His business partner was James Lunnermon, a long-time co-worker at the college.
Once Hytche began to climb the career ladder at the college, he eventually divested himself of his modest entrepreneurial empire. Ever the generous gentleman-scholar, he gave his blessing for the name to live on as an on-campus eatery.
-- Bill Robinson & Ashley Collier