Five years Ago, Piedmont's Crawford Leavoy Succumbed to Alcoholism in New Orleans. Now, He's Running One of Durham's Best Restaurants. | Food Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Five years Ago, Piedmont's Crawford Leavoy Succumbed to Alcoholism in New Orleans. Now, He's Running One of Durham's Best Restaurants. 

Two weeks after finishing his first marathon, Crawford Leavoy waits in the starting chute of Cary's Tobacco Road Marathon.

Photo by Alex Boerner

Two weeks after finishing his first marathon, Crawford Leavoy waits in the starting chute of Cary's Tobacco Road Marathon.

Mardi Gras drifts on the calendar. Based on the dates of other nearby holidays, it's not as easy to remember as, say, Christmas, a date children master as quickly as their own birthday.

But Crawford Leavoy remembers that, five years ago, Mardi Gras arrived March 8. What he's blurry about is what happened in the hours, weeks, and even months that came before.

At the time, Leavoy, the current general manager of Durham's Piedmont restaurant, lived in New Orleans. For years, he was at the epicenter of the American Mardi Gras experience, the infamously booze-fueled, bacchanalian launch of Lent, during which the faithful give up something dear. In 2011, a week ahead of the party, Leavoy did what he'd been doing a lot of: he got blackout drunk.

When Leavoy finally opened his eyes around noon the next day, he was not entirely surprised to find himself in someone else's apartment. His head was pounding when he checked his phone to discover dozens of texts from concerned friends, including a few bartenders who had grown weary of watching the charming wine director from one of the city's most respected restaurants turn repeatedly into a foul-mouthed boor. There were messages from his longtime partner, too, a medical student who had spent hours trying to find him at the places he typically got wasted.

For Leavoy, this had become business as usual.

"I would get so annoyed when people told me I was drinking too much," Leavoy recalls over a stiff mug of coffee, one chilly morning at the Durham coffee shop Cocoa Cinnamon, stumbling distance from his office at Piedmont. "I thought, 'That's your problem, not mine.' I was so sick of hearing about it. But after that night, I couldn't ignore it anymore."

Terrified of losing so much that was dear to him—especially Clayton Alfonso, who he would marry in October 2014, and his hard-earned job at August, the flagship of acclaimed chef John Besh—Leavoy admitted something he had angrily denied for years: he was an alcoholic.

If he wanted to remain in his field as a wine director, not to mention grow old with his faithful partner, he needed to make some very severe changes.

  • Alcoholism could have killed one of the Triangle's food stars. We learned how he learned to run past it.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

This is now called Awaz and it's a charming little spot. I have spent about a month in Ethiopia and …

by ZGF on Ashee Ethiopian Cuisine (Wake County)

Neomonde had an official name change recently. We are no longer Neomonde Bakery & Deli. We are now Neomonde Mediterranean.

by Neomonde Mediterranean on Neomonde Bakery & Deli (Wake County)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

WHY cut down those 50 ft. pine trees, dude??????

by Phyllis Nunn on Raleigh Artist David McConnell's Infinity Hundred Is a Biodiverse Alternative to Big Agriculture (Food Feature)

Thank you for covering how the brutality of industrial farming affects human farmers and their neighbors in this story and …

by Linda Watson on Local Film Under Contract Highlights the Human Story Behind the Chicken in Your Biscuit (Food Feature)

Thanks mr.bell

by Sheissobad on Sankofa Farms Plants Seeds of Empowerment for Black Youth in Durham (Food Feature)

Thank you Mr. Bell, this program is a much needed blessing. You have given these children a little more hope …

by Diana Carter on Sankofa Farms Plants Seeds of Empowerment for Black Youth in Durham (Food Feature)

Mr. Bell, Thanks for being that Servant Leader that the NC Public Education System so desperately needs. For those of …

by Hawkins O'Neal on Sankofa Farms Plants Seeds of Empowerment for Black Youth in Durham (Food Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation