Kevin Clair of Sweet Basil receives Lifetime Achievement Award | VailDaily.com

Kevin Clair of Sweet Basil received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association

Kevin Clair, owner of Sweet Basil and its sister restaurants, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Of the several honors that the CRA awards to restauranteurs in the Centennial State, the Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious. Awards were presented at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors Inaugural Dinner on Oct. 15 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

When Clair opened Sweet Basil in 1977, its center-of-Vail location was considered off-the-beaten-path. The restaurant quickly blazed its own trail, raising the caliber of the town’s whole dining industry in the process and today is a fan favorite for fine dining in town.

After graduating from the University of Denver’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Clair spent a year in France as an apprentice cook at two different Michelin three-star restaurants. When he returned to the U.S., he fostered a culture of constant improvement to his own restaurant. Sweet Basil became of the first restaurants in Vail to serve varietal wine by the glass while the norm was to serve boxed wine. He also banned smoking in the dining room.

Kevin Clair (center) with KC Gallagher (left), CRA chairman of the board, and Sonia Riggs (right), CRA president and CEO.
Danielle Lirette | Special to the Daily

Clair’s tenacity is part of the reason Sweet Basil remains a contstant, and since, it’s spawned several siblings. Clair opened Montauk Seafood Grill with partner Gary Boris in 1988, Zino Ristorante in Edwards in 1997, and Mountain Standard with partners Matt Morgan and Paul Anders in 2012. All of the restaurants are still operating successfully.

Outside of his restaurants, Clair was the first president of the Vail Restaurant Association and was a founder of the Taste of Vail. He and his wife Sally spend their free time traveling, biking, and boating.

Others who received the Lifetime Achievement Award this year include Patricia Calhoun of Westword in Denver, Jeff Hermanson of Larimer Square in Denver, Jose Ramirez of Los Dos Potrillos in Centennial. Josh Wolkon of Secret Sauce F&B in Vesta won the Noel & Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award, and KC Gallagher of Little Pub Company received the Richard P. Ayers Distinguished Service Award.




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