Another bastion of fine-dining faces a questionable future: Central Square restaurant Craigie on Main is for sale for $500,000.
“I put it on the market to see what the value is and if there’s an option that involves selling, and if it’s worth it for me to do or not,” says chef-owner Tony Maws.
Maws has been a fixture on the local dining scene for nearly two decades. He got his start at Clio before opening Craigie Street Bistrot in 2002. He was named one of the best new chefs of 2005 by Food & Wine magazine. He opened Craigie on Main in 2008 and won a James Beard Best Chef: Northeast nod in 2011.
Maws closed the restaurant on Aug. 1 to spend more time with his family. Now, he says, he’s re-evaluating his life’s plans.
“The world of restaurants is a very confusing place right now. Just from a business-model perspective, a fine-dining establishment requires a certain level of volume and a certain level of labor. We all read about the labor and all the costs that we’ve been talking about for years,” he says.
He stops short of saying that fine-dining is dead, but he says to expect more restaurants to close in the coming months as they’re confronted with the same issues.
For the time being, Maws is contemplative. If the restaurant were to permanently shutter, he says, he’d be at peace.
“I’m 51 years old. I have a wife and a son whom I adore, and they seem to still adore me, too. I want to keep it that way. I lived the life. I was there early and stayed late. I did all that. I have zero regrets,” he says. “But if anything came out of the pandemic, I’m not ready to die at the stove. What’s the point? It’s that simple.”
Maws says he has an understanding landlord and may continue operating in the space with a different concept— but that he’s committed to doing so in a different frame of mind, after taking time off.
“I’m healthy, and I wasn’t before: emotionally, mentally, physically. I was not well. And now I’m laughing and going for long walks and walking my dog,” he says.
I ask him what’s next: Art? Music? Meditating on a mountaintop?
“As much as I love cooking food for people, I don’t have to do it for the rest of my life. I’m exploring all the options I currently have in front of me, because I can right now,” he says.
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.