Calhoun’s journey to 80 Thoreau began in childhood

July 13, 2023

By Jesse Birge

Ian Calhoun’s interest in cooking started while watching Julia Child. Her show was constantly playing on WGBH in the family home. His mother would cook alongside her son, teaching him different skills and recipes. 

The now-owner of 80 Thoreau took what he learned and applied it to summer jobs at restaurants during high school and college, working on Cape Cod, in Vermont, and at the Tuscan Grill in Waltham.

His start creating dishes with his mother in Sudbury spurred Calhoun to become a restaurateur, creating a group of restaurants focusing on the different needs and tastes of diners in the greater Boston area.

Now a longtime Concord resident, Calhoun attended Fenn and Middlesex Schools and the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. After college, his future wife suggested they move to Manhattan where he found work as part of the management team at Cipriani’s and the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. He then managed a Soho restaurant, Bar Martignetti, for two years before returning to Concord and attending the Harvard Business School.

Initially, Calhoun wanted to open a Boston restaurant. He soon realized that the restaurant he wanted to create in the city didn’t exist in Concord. To have the dining experience that he and other Concord residents might want meant a trip to Boston or a remote suburb. 

When the large dining space on the second floor of the depot became available, Calhoun acquired it. After extensive renovations, including installing an open kitchen and cozy wooden bar area, 80 Thoreau opened in 2010.

Some 12 years later, 80 Thoreau has become a destination for fine dining in Concord. Calhoun works with local farmers whose seasonal produce informs the menu throughout the year.

Calhoun got his Boston restaurant when he opened Mooncusser in 2017 to acclaim. The restaurant specializes in innovative ways to prepare fish dishes. His roast beef pop-up, Cusser’s, started in Concord on the first floor of the depot during the pandemic. With the success of that temporary space, Calhoun opened Cusser’s in Hub Hall near TD Garden in 2021. 

Time Out, a food hall near Fenway, opened shortly thereafter. Both of these spaces serve roast beef sandwiches, lobster rolls, and smaller bites to high traffic areas with a diverse clientele.