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2024 President's Award: Jen Charboneau

March 18, 2024

Jen Charboneau
2024 President’s Award

The world needs more people like Jen Charboneau.

Jen is a native Mainer who after a brief 20 years in Vermont, finally found her way home.  To be fair, when she was ready to come home after a few years, she met her husband Nick and decided to start their family in Vermont.  Yet Jen missed her big extended family in Maine, and Nick understood, so when he said ‘find me a restaurant and we will move’ Jen did just that.  In 2013, Jen’s family sent a realty flyer to her about Cook’s Lobster & Ale House being for sale in Harpswell.  They drove up to see it a few weeks later and they fell in love with the location, even if the condition of the property at that time needed its own love.  It was a bit of a rollercoaster after that, but on July 1, 2015, they signed the paperwork. 

Six months later, and after their first summer of really seeing where the gaps were in the effectiveness of the equipment and the layout, Jill and Nick shut the restaurant down from January through April to do a complete kitchen renovation and an expansion/renovation of the pub area.  Their staff helped where they could, and many local contractors helped on the project. When they re-opened the public was blown away with the changes and that set the course for several successful years that followed. 

In 2018, Jen and Nick got a food truck that they stationed at Flight Deck Brewing and together the partnership flourished.  Flight Deck had great food options, and Cook’s got great exposure which drove more traffic to their Harpswell location.  2019 included a huge septic upgrade and a necessary driveway repaving.  All in all, since they took over the space, they have invested close to $1.25 million into rebuilding, repairing, and upgrading. 

From the very beginning, Cook’s has been involved with the Chamber and the events we do. Jen and Nick have been a part of at least one chamber event per year since owning the restaurant and in the past three years they have been part of every major event we've held. This is just part of their story though as they are heavily involved in the community - from sponsoring little league teams to holding big dollar fundraisers, they see the value in supporting organizations big and small. 

For several years now, they have done an annual Home Heating Oil fundraiser for the Town of Harpswell.  They raised so much in 2023 that is covered every request the town received for assistance. To date they have donated over $120,000 raised from the dinner-auction event from attendees.  Additionally, after the destruction of the working waterfronts, they raised $20,000 for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.  This working waterfront restoration fundraiser will become an annual event, as rebuilding will be a process over many years. 

This is who Jen and Nick are and they have instilled this in their culture at Cook’s. Their staff is full of friendly faces many people know and love.  When it came time for the annual awards, Board President Shannon Anketell said that Jen needed to be recognized for all that she has done and continues to do.  She is a valued board member, an active sponsor and volunteer at all three major events every year, a great representative of the hospitality industry and of the Harpswell business community, not to mention giving so much back to the region.  We couldn’t agree more. 

Congratulations to Jen Charboneau for being named the 2024 President’s Award winner.      

Jen Charboneau won the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber’s 2024 President’s Award at the 2024 Annual Awards Dinner held on March 8, 2024 at St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick, given by Board President Shannon Anketell. There is an accompanying video which premiered that evening and can be found on the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber’s YouTube channel.


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