Larry Surrisi joined the Culver Academies as Executive Chef of the Dining Hall in May 2011 after an extensive career in the restaurant and hotel business. Not only has he worked as the Director of Food and Beverage Services in hotels across the Midwest, but has also built, operated, and rehabbed several restaurants, some of which can be found right here in Culver , IN!
Larry was born in St. Louis, MO, was raised in Kokomo, IN, and attended Indiana University. He has been married to his wife, Jo, for over 38 years and has 1 son and 1 granddaughter.
Larry and Jo Surrisi themselves entered the restaurant busi ness in 1974 at Keystone at the Crossing in Indianapolis, operating an eatery there called The Breadline, which operated from 1974-1981 at the location of today’s Cheesecake Factory. “We had no formal schooling in this, unlike a lot of people in the food business; we kind of backed into it. My wife and I had been married two years. There was an opportunity there. It was a very busy place but there was no place to just get a cup of coffee…that was our start in owning a restaurant. That was our education.” The economic slump of the early 1980s, among other factors, led to the Surrisis’ departure from their Indianapolis restaurant. The family would move to Chicago, where Larry worked in the field of magazine publication for 10 years. When Jo wanted their son Sean to attend school at Culver Academies, things began to change. Larry sought work in the printing and publishing field, which he enjoyed, in the Culver area, but he says there “just wasn’t that much work.” The family was frequently here on weekends until Sean was a freshman in college, “and that’s when I started the Edgewater", notes Larry. “When we started the Edgewater,” Surrisi recalls, “a lot of ideas that were the genesis of that menu were from a trip to New York we made during the winter prior, and a cookbook I was working on setting up for Random House in 1996. As I was putting the pages together on the computer, I read a lot of stuff. That’s how we started the Edgewater.” Surrisi would eventually sell the Edgewater and try other endeavors before launching the City Tavern on Lake Shore Drive. “The current (City Tavern) menu was an effort not to step on competing menus in town,” notes Surrisi.