Managing Director + Owner
Since 2006, Caswell Restaurant Group has developed and operated durable restaurant concepts that have earned impressive accolades for evocative menus that tell stories through food, inventive international wine lists featuring undiscovered gems from small batch wineries, and exceptional guest service experiences. The company’s reputation as respected culinary leader is the work of powerhouse proprietor and wine aficionado Nancy Batista-Caswell, whose success record is testament to her savvy in designing modern restaurant offerings that match contemporary diner values and preferences.
Nancy is a StarChefs’ Rising Star Restaurateur of Coastal New England alumna, a prescient predictor of the coveted invitations, expert speaker requests, and many “best” awards she and her team have received. She has led teams to cook for the James Beard Foundation and Nantucket Wine Festival, and her restaurants were chosen among three statewide to represent Massachusetts’ star dining destinations for a national travel and tourism media event. Accolades have come from Wine Spectator, Forbes, USA Today, FSR, Boston Magazine, Northshore Magazine, Boston Globe, Hemispheres, ABC-TV’s Chronicle, Phantom Gourmet, and the Boston Business Journal. Her company proudly retains original employees, purveyors, and patrons.
As restaurateurs navigated 2020 whipsawed by the moving target of the pandemic’s impact to their livelihoods, Nancy plunged into advocacy for the industry she loves from its front lines, her perspectives as an independent restaurateur adding credibility to her impassioned plea for urgent interventional government rescue of this second largest segment of the US service economy and its displaced workforce. In 2021 and in recognition of her ambassadorship, Nancy accepted appointment as the executive director of the Massachusetts Restaurant Union (MRU), a statewide restaurant advocacy coalition whose mission of securing emergency funding through federal resources proved the country’s most effective campaign.
Caswell Restaurants 2.0
It surprises no one that Nancy was productive during the mandated restaurant hiatus. She expanded BRINE in Downtown Newburyport and readied Boston’s Oak + Rowan for its return to in-person dining. She had already consolidated her restaurant portfolio by making 2020 the wrap for much-celebrated Ceia Kitchen + Bar, also in Newburyport, concluding its sensational ten-year run. Her company’s resilience to the pandemic’s disruption validated Nancy’s management approach: equal parts business acumen, sustained investments in employee development, and continued service philanthropy, balanced with running and yoga for uncluttered thinking time.
In addition to the MRU, Nancy has served in board, mentor, fundraiser or volunteer roles for the Newburyport YMCA, Let’s Talk Womxn of Boston, Anna Jaques Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the DoorDash® Restaurant Advisory Council, High Roads Restaurants (Fair Wage Act), Community Servings, Home of Little Wanderers, Mass Farmers’ Markets, Newburyport Education Foundation, Plum Island Conservancy, and the James Beard Foundation. As the daughter of first-generation Portuguese immigrants, she has always embraced workforce inclusivity, often encouraging employees to share recipes and intricacies of cultural cooking techniques passed through their family. She regularly addresses mental health wellness at open staff huddles (challenging staff to run charity 5Ks) and brings in subject expert trainers to coach refined guest service and to cultivate wine palates for her staff. Nancy continues to set a brisk pace with high standards for her profession and her employees. Discerning diners are the beneficiaries of her talents and knowledge.