Steaks a specialty at COPPER FALLS
Those who remember its past incarnations will be surprised to see the great outdoors from the interior of Copper Falls Steakhouse.
“The place didn’t have a single window,” said owner Todd Gokey.
Well, that’s changed. The first thing people notice upon entering the doors is the cascading waterfall viewed through the bank of windows running the entire width of the dining room.
The new look includes a wine room with a swinging door of bottles, with more wine stretching floor-to-ceiling, accessed with a library ladder.
“We gutted it to the bare walls,” said Gokey of the 9,000 square-foot building.
The fresh look took several months.
After purchasing the building, which had lain dormant for the better part of five years, Gokey and his crew got to work.
“I own a construction business, and we’re always looking for projects,” he said.
Past projects included the Howard Johnson’s and the Knights Inn, which he owns, and which were managed by Jeremy Martincheck.
Martincheck previously worked at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey and opened the Hagerty Center; he now manages Copper Falls.
That’s the how. As to the why, Martincheck says, “We felt the town needed a place with a high level of service and a no-rush experience. We have no goal in turning tables.
“We want the atmosphere to be warm, inviting and comfortable. It takes you back to when eating out was the entertainment.”
BEEF LOVER’S DESTINATION
A restaurant is ultimately defined by its food, of course. As a steakhouse, Copper Falls caters to the beef lover, with several different cuts of steak as well as prime rib. Then there are the steak sandwiches and steak salad.
But that’s not all that Chef Josh Benedict and his crew serve up. Scallops, pasta, pork chops, beet salad and more take their place on the menu as well, along with numerous daily and weekly specials.
Then there are the desserts: White chocolate raspberry crème brulee, Bailey’s cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake served with malted milk chocolate ice cream and raspberry coulis.
Benedict takes great pride in noting that all the dishes, from the steak sauces (demiglace, bearnaise, au poivre, maderia, mushroom demi, sauce Tyler) to the desserts, are all made in house.
“We make everything ourselves,” he said. “We cut our own steak, butcher our own fish, make our own ice cream. Our food is all fresh, not frozen. We offer something you can’t get everywhere else.
“It’s a teaching situation. A lot of people can make a sandwich, but now they can butcher a fish.”
Benedict and Gokey also note that a number of the items on the menu are supplied by local farms and ranches.
They say their prices are in line with other high-end restaurants in the area, with steaks running from $26 to $42, and other entrees starting at $16, salads from $8, and sandwiches from $9.
Gokey takes issue with the perception that the location isn’t a good one, both due to its location (next to a Burger King in the back of the parking lot of the Cherryland Center) and its history.
“This location opened in 1978 as a Great Lakes Steakhouse, and it’s only been three restaurants,” said Gokey. “It was TC Traders for 21 years, then the Big Eazy.
“People say, ‘Why would you want to build a restaurant in a mall parking lot?’ You’d never know it was in a parking lot from the inside.”
Plus, as Martincheck points out, the restaurant offers plenty of free, convenient parking, something that’s not always the case in a downtown location.
Copper Falls also offers a free shuttle service to and from area hotels. Benedict has even driven the vehicle, and by the time he got the patrons to the restaurant, their mouths were watering from his descriptions of the food.
Copper Falls Steakhouse is located at 1796 S. Garfi eld Ave. Hours are 11-9 Monday through Friday, 12-9 Saturday, and 10-9 Sunday, with brunch from 10 to 3. Those hours will expand this summer. Call 943-1103 or visit online at copperfallssteakhousetc.com or on Facebook.