Of all of the reasons why Colgate University is so lucky, perhaps the most recent is N13 in Hamilton. N13, also known as Noodles13, opened in April 2015 and is a contemporary twist on the centuries-old cherished tradition of the Asian noodle shop. The restaurant has rich ties to Colgate alumni blood and history.
Scott Williams ’80, P ’15, ’16, a former History concentrator at Colgate, founded N13 with the support and investment of countless dedicated Colgate alumni and friends. Williams has legacy alumna and Hamilton roots dating back to the founding of Colgate in the 1800s. He founded N13 in hopes of creating the quintessential college noodle shop.
“I went to my daughters and their friends and said, ‘If you could have one new food item in Hamilton, what would it be?’ And everybody said, ‘ramen noodles.’ So we developed the concept and the brand. Colgate will always be a great laboratory for us because the students here are so engaging, interesting and worldly,” Williams said.
Walter Steinmann ’79 and Pete Shelsky ’01, restaurant connoisseurs and innovators, both donated a lot of time and thought to Williams’ founding of N13, contributing entrepreneurial ideas on how to give back to their beloved Hamilton community.
At least twenty-one alumni, parents and students are currently involved with the N13 restaurant project. The project also has deep connections to Colgate’s history. Dating back to the nineteenth century, Jonathan Gobel, an 1855 graduate of Madison University (which was the name of this school before it was Colgate University), was a missionary in Japan. When his wife became ill in 1869, he constructed a wheeled rickshaw chair to take his beloved to the market in Yokohama. N13 honors this piece of Hamilton history today with its own red rickshaw.
Goldie Blumenstyk ’79, a former Maroon-News editor and current writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, passionately supported the founding of N13.
“When I heard [Williams] was doing the restaurant in Hamilton, I was very excited by the idea of having a cool new ethnic restaurant as an option for Colgate students and for Hamilton residents. Affordable food, great ingredients, interesting cuisine and not too precious or cutesy, N13 seemed like it would appeal to a wide range of tastes and would be a great business addition for Hamilton. It also seemed like a nice way for me to invest in a community that still holds a special place in my heart,” Blumenstyk said.
Since first opening N13, Williams has been constantly learning new things and innovating. He has expanded the menu, offered catering and convenient late-night delivery, worked on expanding group seating options in the restaurant and thought of endless new ways to attract more Colgate students.
“This is the time of students’ lives when they start trying new things. We’re keeping the menu very simple and straightforward right now so people can get used to it. A lot of people don’t know what Pad Thai is, but it’s consumed by millions of people every day. We want to maintain a cook-order business where the food is fresh, and we need to figure out how to do that at scale as we grow. And we’re trying to do more catering on the hill,” Williams said.
Lacey Williams ’16, Scott’s daughter, was the fourteenth member of her family to come to Colgate since 1847, and she speaks fondly of her father’s commitment and passion for his restaurant.
“Rarely have I met someone with such an appreciation for and interest in flavor. He is the living definition of a liberal arts mind, and nowhere is this more evident to me than when he starts talking about his N13 recipes. He is not a trained chef by nature, but he has thrown himself – heart and soul – into N13, making sure the flavors are not just ‘good,’ but sensational,” Lacey Williams said.
Williams credits his liberal arts education and diverse work experience for his critical thinking skills, determination and ability to innovate with a global, open-minded perspective.
“Liberal arts is so important right now. The ability to have critical thinking skills is in short supply, and it has benefited me tremendously in [founding N13]. I’ve been a congressional press secretary for senators and worked in television, but the ability to look at problems and solve them, think about international flavors, while also constantly learning, is a direct result of my Colgate education,” Williams said.
N13 has a 13 percent off promotion for those who live in the 13346 surrounding area, creating a sense of community and providing an incentive for people to try new things.
Perhaps the most noble and fantastic quality Williams possesses is his commitment to always listen to student feedback and ceaselessly think of ambitious ways to improve N13. Whether it is tweaking small details of recipes or ensuring that the restaurant is safe for those with peanut allergies, Williams works hard to make N13 a satisfying experience for everyone.
“It’s a passion and dedication to the Colgate community to an extent that I don’t think the administration and student body fully realize. He puts his customers first and agonizes over ways to improve their N13 experience. Because the vast majority of this effort is behind the scenes, most of the Colgate community in Hamilton does not realize what N13 represents,” Lacey Williams said. “Don’t get me wrong, I live for Slices and Royal India Grill buffet and have eaten every single hot sandwich on the Eatery menu, but I am far and away the most proud of N13 because it’s a manifestation of my father’s love and passion for Colgate. My father is easily one of the most dedicated and invested alums I have ever met, and N13 is just one of the countless ways he has given back to our community.”