By Lisa Schmidt, Calgary Herald
CALGARY - When Warren Buffett comes to town, a dining request is simple: a quiet room, a bit of history and a good burger on the menu.
That’s how the billionaire investment guru ended up at Laurier Lounge, in Calgary’s Beltline district, during an apparent overnight trip to the city last Friday.
“They had one night to have a dinner in Calgary and they chose my place,” said owner Martin Maheux.
“Mr. Buffett, he likes burgers and on my menu, I have the best burger in town.”
The $15 Montreal filet mignon Hambourgeois — soon to be renamed the W.B. Burger — appeared to fit the bill for Buffett, well-known for his simple dining preference of hamburgers and steaks.
“He loved it,” said Maheux, a big fan of the 79-year-old American investment magnate, also known as the Oracle of Omaha.
The group of 15, which included members of Buffett’s family, spent about two and a half hours in a private room at the restaurant in historic Stanley House, childhood home to Canadian flag designer George Stanley.
“I was so nervous about everything,” said Maheux, who said the reservation was booked a month ago.
“But they were so nice, so friendly.”
Buffett then agreed to pose for a photograph, now displayed at the restaurant, and accepted a chess game created by Maheux.
“He told me where to invest my money, too,” Maheux said, laughing, though he declined to share any tips.
Details on the reasons for Buffett’s visit to Calgary are slim. The billionaire told Maheux he was only in the city for one evening, and was boarding a train the next morning to travel to Vancouver.
According to Forbes’ March list, Buffett was worth an estimated $47 billion, placing him third on the 2010 list of the world’s richest people.
He is known widely as America’s most beloved investor and his assets are largely held within his Omaha, Neb.-based insurance firm Berkshire Hathaway.
A call to Berkshire Hathaway was not returned on Tuesday.
A visit by Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates — No. 2 on Forbes’ list — generated major buzz in 2008 after the pair toured Alberta’s oilsands, spurring speculation about potential investments in Calgary-based oilsands producers. Buffett later said an investment was not imminent, but the visit provided good industry background.
Buffett is the biggest celebrity to dine at the Laurier Lounge, largely known for its fondues and French bistro fare.
And for Maheux, his visit is unlikely to be topped.
“For me, it was bigger than if Brad Pitt was coming — nothing against Brad Pitt,” said Maheux.
“But my servers would have probably preferred Brad Pitt.”CNBC VIDEO: Warren Buffett Testifies to Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
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