Marriage & Meatloaf: Thomas and Kay Craig
Though they were raised blocks apart, Kay and Thomas Craig took their time before they truly discovered one another. It’s a relationship made stronger by working together, working apart, and always, an abiding love.
The story of Kay and Thomas Craig’s marriage is the tale of a relationship that was years in the making, of becoming friends first and partners much later. Perhaps the bond between them that reveals itself upon meeting them is rooted in their common upbringing.
Kay and Thomas first met in eighth grade in Jackson, Mississippi. Thomas’ father, a contractor, had built Kay’s family home, their siblings were friends and they lived blocks apart in the same neighborhood.
Yet despite the physical and social connections, it would be nearly eight years before they would connect romantically – seeing each other only rarely through the middle and high school years.
In any case, Thomas left Jackson for Auburn and architecture, and Kay for Mississippi State and then SMU and studies in Fine Art and Art History.
During those early college years, they corresponded, but did not date. Then towards the end of their time away at university, Thomas invited Kay to a party at a home he worked on in Washington, DC.
That August they had their first date. Thomas was clearly smitten, the spark ignited at last. Whether it was as Thomas said, that Kay “looked great in a pair of jeans” or “was the only girl who would put up with his orneriness,” it was clearly the case that Kay was his ideal partner, “smart, great looking, and dark haired.”
They wed in 1988 following graduation and moved to Highlands.
Kay began work at the Highlands Decorating Center, helping with interior design and eventually getting into the cabinet business with the center’s owner.
Thomas got his contractor’s license, the beginning of a 20-year career in the construction business. Their son, Samuel was born in 1995 and their daughter Leah Grace in 2000.
In 2003 Thomas built the building that now houses The Ugly Dog and Kay moved her cabinet business to the Fourth Street location, sharing the space with other retail tenants. By the time the recession hit, and tenants vacated, Kay’s cabinet business had already moved to the upstairs of the building. As building and remodeling had come to a stand still, Kay suggested opening a pub. It took Kay about three months, and the advice of other restaurateurs, to talk Thomas into the idea.
Despite some warnings (and Thomas’ skepticism), they forged ahead and the Ugly Dog opened in 2010. As anyone who has ever visited Highlands knows, the restaurant has since become a mainstay of the city’s attractions, expanding and adding venues multiple times in the years since. Kay is the gregarious face of the “front of the house,” while Thomas ensures that everything is in its place and working – “if it can be fixed with a screwdriver, I’m your guy.”
Their marriage has flourished as well. Interviewed for this story, their monologues reveal what each love about the other, the secret to the success of a marriage that many consider to be a marvel of a longevity in an age of divorce,
“We’re best friends, we enjoy each other’s company and our children, have a lot of the same interests, and have a real understanding of each other’s strengths and weakness.”
Their words underscore the sentiments of violinist Itzhak Perlman, who famously compared marriage to meatloaf. “Both fall apart,” he said, “without the proper ingredients. A successful marriage has to do with the art of communication.’’