Having opened his restaurant in Surrey Center nearly 40 years ago, Craig Calvert isn’t planning on going anywhere soon.
Since 1976, Calvert’s Restaurant has remained a fine-dining favorite for patrons across the area. It’s also been a place where diners have created memories and spent special occasions.
“We’ve been here so long,” Calvert said. “It’s unbelievable. They go, ‘We had our first date here 20 years ago,’ or, ‘We went to prom and we came here.’ ”
Long before Calvert had ambitions of running his own establishment, the Michigan native was pursuing an education in engineering at Michigan State University.
During the summer of his sophomore year, Calvert was prompted by a friend to work at a country club in a Michigan resort area. After six weeks, he decided to change his major to business with a focus on hotel and restaurant management.
Calvert moved to Augusta in 1972 to take over the Green Jacket restaurant in Daniel Village and again when it moved across the street
from Augusta National Golf Club.
By the time he turned 26, Calvert had made plans to open his own restaurant in Surrey Center, where he acquired two storefronts with a total of about 3,500 square feet.
Calvert transformed the area into two separate dining rooms, complete with a bar. He turned space that once refrigerated flowers into his wine room.
“I would say if anybody inspired the food, it would have been Julia Child,” Calvert said. “Because that was kind of what was coming at that time.”
Menu favorites – steaks and seafood – have stayed the same throughout the years, Calvert said. He said the surrounding neighborhood is a key ingredient to his success.
“It’s not so transient,” he said. “It didn’t start off to be a great location. McDonald’s wouldn’t locate here. We
kind of had to do our own thing.”
The restaurant has been frequented by athletes and public figures, especially during Masters Week. Famous diners have included golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin along with state politicians and even supermodels such as Cindy Crawford.
The restaurant has become a family affair. Calvert now works there on a daily basis with wife Beverly and sister Kathy Moore.
The Calverts have been married for 38 years. They have three adult children, Scott, Chris and Lyndsey, who live across the country, and two young grandchildren, Samuel and Luisa.
“It works,” Beverly Calvert said. “We blend well. Craig has a strong work ethic and basically I try to balance out our family life.”