Personal touches matter to restaurateur Maureen Craig, Executive Chef Stephen McLain, and the Alligator Soul staff. Each unwraps and showcases the art of unpretentious fine dining at its best, making each guest feel special. Meet the team below:
Maureen was raised In New York City but always felt like a fish out of water in a cosmopolitan environment. Her love and respect of nature and beauty in all its forms propelled her into the world of horticulture where for many years she designed, installed and maintained private residences and corporate buildings creating park like settings where one could escape from the demands of urban life.
In 1989 Maureen moved to Washington State where she met the love of her life, Southern born and raised Hilary Craig. Together they started three Alligator Soul Restaurants. Alligator Soul, Everett opened in 1995 and Alligator Soul, Seattle opened in 1997. The third of the trilogy in Savannah opened in 2003. Hilary was the executive chef of all three Alligator Soul’s until his passing in 2007. Maureen continues his legacy always mindful of his personal credo: It’s all about your integrity and people can clearly see that by what you put on the plate. ~ Hilary Lewis Craig
Stephen McLain was destined to cook. Born into a family with proud traditions of sustainable farming, he began his love affair with food at an early age in his grandmother’s restaurant.
His mother and stepfather were great sources of inspiration and influence, as both are artists and accomplished cooks. Stephen began honing his craft while working in the Southern region of Portugal.
Stephen quickly understood that food transcends the language barrier and becomes the great communicator bringing family, friends and neighbors together.
After attending Armstrong Atlantic State University with a major in psychology, it became obvious to all that there was no match for his love affair with food. After fifteen years working in the food and hospitality industry; Stephen was offered the Executive Chef position at Alligator Soul and continues the proud traditions and vision of restaurateurs Hilary and Maureen Craig. In his own words: “Alligator Soul provides me the privilege to serve each of our honored guests and the blessing to do what truly makes me happy”. That is, of course, along with the love of his life, new daughter, Ava Patricia McLain…
Melvin Leland Jr.
Melvin was born into the service industry. Raised in a family with military ties and a mother who was trained in the culinary arts. His love of food, and passion for cocktails was fostered by working in his parent’s restaurant. He is continually striving to match the examples set forth by his parents, as selfless individuals.
Melvin realized that food and cocktails are an impermanent art form, allowing him to express himself through many mediums.
Melvin attended USC Upstate with a major in Biology and USC Bluffton with a major in Spanish. Though both fields peaked his interest, he quickly realized that it wasn’t his true calling. Having been in the service industry all his life, Melvin found his niche here at Alligator Soul. He has worked his way up from bartender, to server, manager and now general manager. Melvin’s favorite thing to say is “trust (in me) and believe (that I will),” which translates and permeates into everything that he does and all that he is.