If everything Ed Caraminas is working on goes as planned, he’ll open his new downtown Camden restaurant in mid-September or early October, maybe earlier.
Caraminas, as part of G&B Camden LLC with his brother, Nick, purchased the building which housed the Old Armory Steak & Seafood restaurant earlier this month. The building became available after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seized the business due to unpaid state and federal taxes by the previous owner.
Caraminas said the name will change slightly to The Armory Steakhouse Inc., but added the restaurant has no ties with its former owner.
“We’ll try to keep some of the same menu items -- they’ll be basically the same, but with our recipes, my seasonings -- with a mix of originals,” he said, citing lamb chops and some appetizers from the old menu.
The mix of originals will likely feature ideas taken from the Caraminas brothers’ previous restaurants in Boston, Mass., and Ft. Myers, Fla. The family’s interest in restaurants dates back several generations. Their father’s family owned The 57, a popular Boston restaurant.
“Whenever I was there, I always wanted to be in the kitchen,” Caraminas said.
His cooking career really began, though, in his family’s kitchen at home with his parents. From them, he learned the Greek tradition of actually cooking the food they eat. After graduating from high school, he attended a New England culinary arts school and, later, followed his brother to Florida.
“After I had my children, I realized all the family was up north and my parents wanted to see their grandchildren,” Caraminas said.
His parents owned a strip mall in the Boston area and provided him space for what would become Edward’s Family Restaurant. Caraminas served breakfast, lunch and dinner, but specialized in seafood, including New England lobster bisque and clam chowder. The restaurant stayed open for 10 years under Caraminas’ care.
“But I missed my children growing up, so I leased it out to another guy,” he said.
And he followed his brother again, this time to Kershaw County.
“He told me about this restaurant being sold and we thought it would be great to own -- to do it here,” Caraminas said.
This week, he has been taking out old carpets, pressure washing the kitchen floor and brought in a new commercial dishwasher on Tuesday morning. Caraminas said he did not participate in the IRS’ July 15 auction of the Old Armory’s inventory, choosing to bring in equipment and supplies purchased from other sources.
One thing which will be gone by the time he opens is the “gazebo” in the middle of the dining room. Caraminas said he figures he can seat more people with traditional seating.
Going back to the menu, Caraminas said patrons can expect things like shrimp and Maine lobster, but also Florida lobster and even Maryland blue crab. Caraminas said he also hopes to bring in fresh, local seafood, if he can.
“I’ll also have daily specials and I’ll take suggestions, too,” he said. “And make traditional (Southern) dishes. I’m versatile and I want to make everybody in Camden happy.”