When Andrew Suthers decided to put in a bid for the Black Skimmer Grille at The Club at Hidden Creek, he figured the odds were long that it would prove to be the winning one.
His brother, who lives here in Florida, told him the restaurant, closed at the time, was looking for a new group to run it.
Suthers was working in Kentucky at the time as a chef at a restaurant two doors down from where his business partner and good friend, Kara Mardell, was working as a chef.
Suthers decided it was worth rolling the dice.
“We did a business plan in about two weeks, and we had to raise the upstart capital. I didn’t think it would work,” Suthers said.
Mardell remembers working and crunching numbers at the same time, which added up to a lot of late nights as she helped Suthers piece together a plan.
“I had never been to Florida. I just packed up my car and said I hope I like it,” Mardell said with a laugh.
As it turns out, it was worth the leap of faith. Black Skimmer Grille has been open since June 1 and has become more than just your average golf course restaurant.
Suthers compared it to ‘Cheers’ with great food. They are a mix of a casual setting early in the week offering burgers, sandwiches, hand-cut fries and appetizers– or maybe you just want to drop in and have a beer after a long day at work – and a more date-night atmosphere Thursday through Saturday, with three or four entrees that change weekly and include items such as steak and fresh seafood.
There is a Sunday brunch as well from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. that features a build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar.
“We want this to be a community restaurant, and we keep things as fresh as possible,” Suthers said. “We use minimal canned goods and keep minimal items in the freezer. Someone asked us once where we got our fries. I said Idaho. We cut those ourselves.”
Though Suthers calls the opening of the restaurant the most whirlwind one he’s ever encountered, everything has gone smoothly, and the community has responded well to it.
“We’ve gotten an overwhelming response. People were popping in before we opened asking us when we were going to open. We have a lot of regulars, too. We also have a great staff. They’ve been tremendous in helping us succeed here,” he said.
Suthers and Mardell teamed up with Michael Juhl, who has more than 20 years experience in the business. Juhl is the general manager and co-owner of the Black Skimmer.
Suthers and Mardell love the chef life and are always trying to come up with something new for the menu. They’ve had shrimp corn dogs and have even offered pork cheeks in the past. Mardell said they sold out of those in no time.
Wings, salads, brats and chicken thighs are also among the menu options you’ll find at the Black Skimmer Grille. Theme nights are popular as well, and you can always count on Taco Tuesday’s.
Interested in just dropping in to catch a college football game? You can do that, too, as the restaurant has five televisions mounted throughout.
They have done catering for weddings in the restaurant, but unlike in the past, the entire restaurant won’t close for the night for one.
“Our tag line is simple, ‘comfort done well.’ At the end of the day, we want to be comfortable, approachable and affordable,” Suthers said.