It's been a long time coming, but as Grand Marais Golf Club has re-emerged after an extensive overhaul, so too has the Lighthouse Restaurant.
Located in Frank Holten State Park, the club has been under new ownership since February. A major renovation has included improvements on the course, clubhouse and restaurant.
"In March, we started working," Willie Williams, one of the five owners, said of the restaurant renovations. "It was all closed up; pipes busted. We spent over $40,000 on it." The other owners are Ken Bunetic, Mark Onstott, Tim Wright and Andrew Foley.
Willie said the redo has brought life back to the club and restaurant.
Situated on a hill overlooking the course, the restaurant has tall windows with a commanding view of the rise and fall of green fairways, stands of mature trees, an arched bridge, a lake and a lighthouse replica.
Creamy yellow walls, green faux-marble tables and a full bar welcome golfers and guests. Tall wood doors and mirrors separate a private dining and party area from the large dining room.
Chef Bobby Tidwell came out of retirement to reopen the Lighthouse for dining on Fridays and Saturdays, though special catered events, from tournaments to weddings, can be arranged for any day of the week.
Bobby has a sentimental attachment to the place.
"I opened it up 20 years ago," he said. "I've been cooking on and off since 1956." His resume includes stints at Fairmount Race Track and Top of the Seven in Clayton.
He started the Friday fish fry then, and he's brought it back, with a menu that ranges from a shrimp dinner with two sides ($14) to catfish nuggets, jack and buffalo sandwiches for $8. Get sides of hush puppies, fries, cole slaw, onion rings, even spaghetti and more for $1.50.
"We'll change things up a little every week," he said.
The restaurant serves a limited lunch menu to hungry golfers on Saturday, offering any of the fish sandwiches, fried or hot and spicy chicken wings ($6) and hamburgers ($4.50). Occasionally, and depending on the weather, Bobby will serve a $7 fish and sandwich buffet under the tented, open-air Midway Cafe near the fairway.
Bobby said all new kitchen equipment, floors, carpet, chairs and tables were added. In-house catering is provided for special events, with room for 250. There is an extensive dinner and appetizer catering menu.
So far, there have been parties to celebrate birthdays, retirements and graduations. Wedding receptions are being booked, Willie said.
Come cold weather, the golfers may be gone, but the Lighthouse will remain open for events and help support the golf club when the course isn't in use, Bobby said.
"This clubhouse and restaurant are designed to take up through the winter."
It may be too warm to think about it now, he added, but there's a nice new fireplace in the dining room.
Where: Grand Marais Golf Club, 5802 Lake Drive, Centreville
Hours: Friday fish fry from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Handicapped accessible: Yes