Hazel’s Blue Lagoon shuts down in Amherst

  • In this 2021 photo, Junior Williams works to get the space ready for the opening of Hazel’s Blue Lagoon in Amherst. Hazel’s was recently evicted from the 39-41 Boltwood Walk location, and the owners have given back an all-alcohol license to the town. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 27, 2023

AMHERST — An Amherst restaurant and nightclub at the center of controversies over the town’s disbursement of American Rescue Plan Act money and requirements that it install an accessible ramp before its dance floor could be opened to the public is losing its space at 39-41 Boltwood Walk.

Hazel’s Blue Lagoon was recently evicted from the location, based on a court order, according to Kathryn Chiavoroli, a representative of property owner Lincoln Real Estate.

The Board of License Commissioners was informed by owners Junior Williams and Patrick Chapman last week that they are surrendering the all-alcohol license for the business that opened in December 2021 in space previously occupied by Lit Amherst nightclub, as well as an adjacent area used by Fire and Water Yoga Studio and Juice Bar. Hazel’s described itself as a “taste of the Caribbean.”

Licensing Coordinator Steven McCarthy said the license had to be given up because the business owners don’t have control of the premises, as mandated by the rules of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

“We did not come to the town of Amherst to make enemies of anyone, but unfortunately we weren’t welcomed the same way we anticipated we would’ve been,” Williams wrote in an email to McCarthy.

In that email, Williams also noted that he met good people and “some not so nice people” during his time in Amherst. The business partners previously operated Hazel’s Kitchen and Courtyard Cafe, both in Chicopee.

 The Black Business Association of Amherst Area in June contended that Hazel’s lost out on economic development money and received disparate treatment by the town compared to The Drake performance venue, which is operated by the Downtown Amherst Foundation and opened in April 2022. The Drake sought and received a variance from the state to have a permanent, retractable ramp for its stage after a complaint was filed with the town’s Human Rights Commission.

McCarthy told the commission that Williams may return with a new location. “He’d like to stay in Amherst if he could,” McCarthy said.

But that could be challenging due to the high cost of renting and the low vacancy rate, especially in downtown Amherst, McCarthy said.

Eight all-alcohol licenses are available if the business does find another location.

Commission member Dillon Maxfield praised the cuisine as being unlike any others offered in Amherst.

Commission Chairwoman Marian Walker said Hazel’s would be welcome to apply for a new license if new space is found.

“We hope that he will be back soon and that he will find another spot,” Walker said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.