Craigie on Main, chef Tony Maws’s acclaimed Central Square restaurant, is for sale. Posted with an asking price of $500,000 and in turnkey condition, the restaurant is “popular with local residents and young professionals,” its listing says, understating its national reputation.
It’s not necessarily a done deal: Maws told The Boston Globe that he “put it on the market to see what the value is and if there’s an option that involves selling.” But he’s finding joy spending more time with family. “And now I’m laughing and going for long walks and walking my dog,” he said.
Open since 2008 on Main Street but dating back to 2002 if one counts its predecessor elsewhere in Cambridge, Craigie Street Bistrot, Craigie on Main has been on “pause” since August 2021; earlier in the pandemic, it offered outdoor dining on an elaborately set up parking lot patio and, at times, takeout — experiences that were fairly representative of Craigie’s interesting duality in non-COVID times. While the restaurant is known in particular for its famous burger — something Maws was a bit hesitant to put on the menu in the first place — and while Craigie has a bit of a rustic bistro vibe that can be dressed up or down, it’s generally been known as a fine-dining destination above all, or at least a special occasion spot.
Craigie “maintains the kind of ambassador status afforded to one or two places in most every U.S. city — the ambitious, elevated American restaurant led by a perfectionist who keeps pace with trends but never loses sight of his own culinary compass,” wrote Eater’s former restaurant editor Bill Addison after a 2014 visit. It’s the kind of place where diners could share a roasted pig’s head for two — a mainstay on the menu for years — or any number of seasonal, local “chef’s whim” dishes.
The necessity of COVID pivots breathed a bit of new, more casual life into the local favorite, which, during its time outdoors, continued the Craigie ethos with an ever-changing menu centering around local farmers market finds, cooked in an outdoor kitchen in the middle of the action. In July, Maws announced that the restaurant would take a break starting in August. “Time away will give us the opportunity to think about what’s next here at Craigie (and elsewhere),” he wrote, “knowing that the restaurant game has changed and our goals need redefining before we decide what chapter to write next.”
With the listing of the restaurant for sale, that next chapter is less clear now, but Maws seems at peace with the possibility of moving on and not spending the rest of his life cooking. “I’m not ready to die at the stove,” he told the Globe.