Mostly, restaurants come and go, but the good ones stay - and for Belize City folk, foremost among those is Dit's Restaurant. The classic Belizean eatery on King Street - famous for its pastries - was opened in 1953 by the Craig family.

But today the doors were closed to mourn the passing of Walter Oliver Craig, the man who came to define Dit's for the past four decades.

Walter Craig passed away last night at 9:30 at the KHMH. He was a diabetic experiencing renal failure. His daughter told us today about his passing and his legacy:...

Alicia Craig, Daughter of Walter Craig
"He was suffering from diabetes for years but he was someone that always said 'I am diabetes strong' because his diabetes could be 500 - 600 and he would still be walking around right, so he would always say diabetes don't beat me I am beating diabetes. I guess on the outside it wasn't showing but eventually it was taking a toll on his kidneys and his body and what happen on Sunday when he came home he fell down about two times in the bathroom and then Monday we called in Doctor Godinez and he came and he said, it is better that he goes in. They started an alternative treatment at the hospital and on Wednesday we were leaving feeling good because they said his heart was getting a little bit better and everything, and so I came home and my sister came home and about 9:30 they called us back saying that he had a cardiac arrest and when we got there he had already passed."

Monica Bodden
"When was the restaurant first open?"

Alicia Craig, Daughter of Walter Craig
"It was open 58 years ago and actually it was right there across the street, where you see Gaylord's. It used to be a panades shop and then eventually they were selling this house and my grandfather purchased the house and right there it started with his sister Dit and that's how we got the name Dits."

Monica Bodden
"One of the things I personally noticed is that Mr. Craig always being inside his restaurant and I am sure that he could afford for someone to sit in the restaurant or one of you girls. Was that something that he insisted on?"

Alicia Craig, Daughter of Walter Craig
"Yes he insisted that he had to have contact with his customers. Then he used to have this thing, that he snapped the money that he was giving you and everyone use to like that about daddy, like I said he was always smiling."

Walter Oliver Craig, had three children and two grandchildren. The restaurant will remain open, managed by the family.

Channel 7

Walter Craig, owner/manager of Dit’s restaurant, dies at 59

The owner and manager of popular Belizean restaurant Dit’s Restaurant and Saloon on King Street, Walter Oliver Craig, 59, aka “Mr. Dit’s,” died suddenly on Wednesday night at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH).

The long-time diabetic was, according to his family, getting the disease under control with a better diet and exercise, losing weight and joking that “I feel like I’m seventeen.”

Things took a sad turn after a trip to Cayo for a birthday party this weekend. After he returned home to the City, he fell down in the bathroom at his residence, located above the restaurant. His family called in Dr. Daniel Godinez, who recommended a hospital stay.

According to his daughter, Alisha Craig, “Mr. Dit’s’” blood pressure was low and his insulin reading slightly high when admitted, but they left him on Monday night in the emergency ward in good spirits.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday morning, doctors reported that his kidneys were rapidly failing, and he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit.

Despite a brief improvement on Wednesday, his pressure could not be stabilized and he passed away around 9:30 p.m.—but not before many of his friends dropped by to visit.

Dit’s (named for his aunt, Mavis Yearwood aka Aunt Dit), opened in 1953 as a grocery store and panades shop, across from its current location at #50 King Street. (The family owned other businesses in the area, and Craig was born and raised on King Street). It eventually moved across the street, to #50, after the house was sold by its former owner.

Since then, based on the hard work and support from the community for Walter and his late father, the business has retained its place as a favorite for Belizeans of all stripes, famous for its locally-made dishes and tasty pastries, which Walter Craig, himself, used to often serve.

Another of his daughters, Rhondine Craig, told us that her father was determined to please whenever a customer came in.

“He made you feel at home; he was ‘a people person,’ he loved the Belizean people. He always told me, ‘It’s not the people from abroad that keep us in business, but the people that live here.’ He loved what he did,” said Rhondine.

That love kept him going for the next four decades, with rarely a day of work missed except when he was sick.

Craig’s sense of community also led him to quiet philanthropy. His family told us that he often assisted many young people through school, always insisting that they do their best, and he always gave a hand to his many friends in the community, living by the philosophy of “freely ye have received, freely give.”

According to the family, even those with a tendency for crime never thought of robbing Dit’s, as they did other establishments.

“Even the biggest of bad boys had respect for my dad,” says Alisha.

Walter Craig worked hardest to instill that community spirit and exceptional work ethic in his family. Sister Lena Craig-Parham, who also owns a business, remembers how she would worry about the slowdown in business at the establishment, fueled by competition from the cheaper eateries, often owned by Chinese or Taiwanese immigrants.

According to Lena, though, Walter would always say, “You have to think big! Don’t worry about the money, it will come from somewhere.” He was also insistent on daily opening hours of 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. while most restaurants and businesses close at 9:00 p.m. Such was his enthusiasm for service, he said.

In that spirit of service, the business will continue under family management, although it was closed in mourning on Thursday and today, Friday.

Funeral services for the late Walter Oliver Craig will be held on Tuesday, November 22, at 2:00 p.m. at Wesley Methodist Church on Albert Street.

He is survived by his ailing wife of 35 years, Yulaine; son - Marlon Craig and daughters: Alisha and Rhondine Craig; 2 grandchildren, brother - Jeffery Craig and sisters: Judith Craig-Gullap, Lena Craig-Parham and Barbara Patten; as well as nieces, nephews, other relatives and numerous friends.

The family wishes to thank the staff at the Intensive Care Unit of the KHMH, Drs. Jorge Hidalgo and Daniel Godinez, and Dr. Bernard Bulwer, KHMH Chief of Staff.

Amandala extends condolences to the family of the late Walter Oliver Craig.