Foodies can add the new Rock Creek Tap and Grill restaurant and lounge in Lloydminster to their list of local culinary experiences.
The franchise establishment located in the Hampton Square at the west side of the city officially opened to the public on Oct. 13 at 4 p.m.
Managing partner Jim Spenrath described the upscale Rock Creek food fare during a pre-opening week invitational lunch held to test staff and equipment.
“The menu has a southwestern feel to it with lots of bold flavours. I think bold is the right word to use,” said Spenrath.
“There’s a Cajun presence in some of our dishes, an Asian presence in some of our dishes - certainly something for everybody.
“We have a good steak program, lots of pastas, but lots of strong flavours.”
This Source reviewer was treated to a delicious free hickory BBQ chicken burger with the order taken by a friendly, helpful server.
The trial period also included an invitational dinner to help generate a positive buzz for this week’s opening.
See “Rock Creek,” Page 7
“We’ve had a whole bunch of special guests already. People are loving the food. They love the service,” said Spenrath on Oct. 9.
He said what’s been missing from the Lloydminster dining scene is a Rock Creek.
“A number of our customers had experienced Rock Creek somewhere in Saskatoon or Regina or in Moose Jaw and are thrilled that we are here,” he said.
“We’re hearing that people are happy to find a place that’s got a strong menu with a real nice atmosphere and that’s what we are providing.”
The popular restaurant opened with a well prepared staff of 58.
“We’ve been training the back of house staff for almost two weeks now and the front of house staff for the last 10 days,” said Spenrath.
“We’ve been having people in for the last two or three days by invitation in limited numbers so we could test the kitchen and test the serving staff.
“We’ve been increasing the numbers every day to simulate an actual evening service and dinner service.”
The Lloydminster franchise is the seventh in the chain that was founded in 2006 Regina that now has two locations.
There are also three outlets in Saskatoon and one in Moose Jaw with a strong following at all of them by customers from 20 to 50 years of age who like the atmosphere.
“It’s upscale casual so our guests come here and certainly there are here to enjoy themselves,” said Spenrath.
“It’s a place where you’ll have room ambience but still have the ability to have a conversation.”
The Lloydminster restaurant seats 90 people on the dining room side and about 90 in the sports lounge equipped with TV monitors tuned to the hot sport of the day.
There will also be an outdoor patio set up in the spring and breakfast will available at 10 a.m. on Sundays beginning in the new year.
Spenrath expects it will be crazy busy in the early going but he noted,“That’s why we’re here.
“We’re looking forward to the people. We love our guests and we’re anticipating we’re going to have good crowds.”
Spenrath was the former chief operating officer of Grit Industries in North Battleford who has restaurant DNA from his early business association with his Lloydminster operating partner Gary Young.
“I worked in a restaurant for five years when I was a young person. In fact I worked for my current partner Gary Young,” explained Spenrath.
“So him and I have kind of gone full circle business wise from my early days in the restaurant working for him to him being my partner in the current operation.”
Young is part of the APX Hotels Group that owns a number of properties including the Hampton Inn by Hilton adjacent to the restaurant and the Holiday Inn & Suites in Lloydminster.
The restaurant address is 8120 44th Street in what Spenrath describes an ideal location.
“We’re finding that the west side of Lloydminster has a significant population, a large commercial sector and being directly from the hotel is something their guests are looking forward as well,” he said.
Construction is proceeding on a Browns Socialhouse facing the hotel and restaurant.
Spenrath noted the downturn in the oilpatch has made it easier to attract experienced staff looking for long term employment.
“When we were recruiting we were fortunate to find just a large number of experienced people that fit the Rock Creek mold. They’re upbeat bubbly, friendly professional servers,” he said.