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Donald Hassell a 'brilliant, kind, generous and friendly man'

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Donald Hassell, owner of the Somerset Country Squire (File photograph)
Donald Hassell, owner of the Somerset Country Squire (Photograph from Facebook)

A chef, West End restaurant owner and pillar of the Somerset community has died at 58.

Donald Hassell, proprietor of the Somerset Country Squire at Mangrove Bay, was a “brilliant, kind, generous and friendly man who exemplified everything that hospitality is about”, said Phil Barnett of Island Restaurant Group.

Mr Barnett, a friend and neighbour of Mr Hassell’s, added: “Donald cared about every single person that came into his premises.

“He spent time with people, told stories and made people feel good about visiting. The view across Mangrove Bay was only matched by Donald’s gentlemanly demeanour.”

Mr Hassell, a lifelong resident and advocate for the West End, campaigned unsuccessfully for the United Bermuda Party in 2007 in Sandys North Central.

A graduate of the Bermuda Hotel and Catering College, Mr Hassell worked as a chef at the Henry VIII Restaurant when he was 15.

He got his start at the Southampton restaurant at age 12, washing dishes.

He told The Royal Gazette in 2007 that his mentor had been Wilfred Bean, who gave him a restaurant job as a youngster and encouraged him to attend the hotel training school.

Mr Hassell added: “That helping hand from Wilfred was invaluable to me.”

His establishment in Somerset Village was geared to families from the area as well as visitors, offering guests a waterside day out at the West End.

He became a shareholder at the Squire in 1986 and bought the establishment in 1988.

Mr Hassell opened Flanagan’s in Hamilton in 1990 and the North Rock Brewery in 1995 near Collector’s Hill in Smith’s, which initially opened as an English-style pub called the Fox and Hounds.

But the Somerset Country Squire remained his favourite.

Mr Hassell told the Gazette in 2004 it was a “real local’s hangout”, nicknamed the “Somerset Drinking and Arguing Club”.

He added: “I’ve spent my whole life here. Everyone knows me. That’s what I love about Somerset.

“There’s an element of peace and serenity you don’t find anywhere else on the island. There’s no hustle and bustle.”

Mr Hassell maintained that the pace of Hamilton was too quick, with heavy traffic and a dearth of parking spots.

“It’s a simpler way of life out here,” he said.

“I know everybody by name, and all my customers are just part of the family.”

⋅ Donald James Hassell, owner of the Country Squire in Somerset, was born on August 24, 1962. He died on March 19, 2021. Mr Hassell was 58.

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Published March 26, 2021 at 8:48 am (Updated March 26, 2021 at 8:49 am)

Donald Hassell a 'brilliant, kind, generous and friendly man'

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