HOBART | Northwest Indiana's culinary and libations landscape will soon be enlivened with a new addition.
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant is set to open Aug. 13 at Westfield Southlake mall, bringing with it a varied menu of eclectic wines and innovative American-inspired dishes.
Tim McEnery, founder and CEO, said he's happy to bring the restaurant concept he developed about a decade ago to Northwest Indiana.
"It turned out incredible," said McEnery, about the Merrillville winery/restaurant. "It's our newest, most state-of-the-art design."
The first Cooper's Hawk opened in 2005 in Orland Park, Ill., with other locations emerging almost every year since then.
"The concept is the same (in all the locations)," the founder said. They all are centered around a Napa-style tasting room; a large bar; a modern, casual American-inspired menu; a wine club and a retail store.
McEnery realizes the overall growth of his empire of winery/restaurants, which now totals nine, has been rather speedy. Sometimes he can't believe it's all come to fruition so quickly, he said.
"I do feel like it's been fast and feel weathered sometimes," he said, with a laugh.
"What I'm most proud of is working so hard to develop our team faster than we grow the restaurants," he said.
McEnery, who grew up in Orland Park, has worn many hats in the culinary field through the years, including dishwasher, restaurant manager, chef, and wine expert. He earned a bachelor's degree in restaurant and hotel management at Purdue University.
The entrepreneur, a Roselle, Ill., resident, said he's immersed in all aspects of running Cooper's Hawk.
"I'm 1,000 percent involved in it," he said.
McEnery said he has come up with the wine program concept and oversees development of the menu. "I'm all over."
All wines served at the restaurant are Cooper's Hawk wines. And all dishes can be paired with a specific wine if guests would like to choose that option.
"We're one of the largest wine producers outside of California," he said.
McEnery's idea for a business developed when he worked as a general manager at Green Garden Country Club in Frankfort, Ill.
"I always wanted to have a business of my own. I didn't know it would be a winery," McEnery said.
The concept for Cooper's Hawk, he said, began as just an idea while he was on a date with his wife Dana, his then-girlfriend, nearly five years before the Orland Park business opened.
"Never in a million years did I think it would be what it is today," he said. "It's very surreal. But the best part is all the wonderful people I get to work with," he said.
In addition to the Merrillville restaurant, other Cooper's Hawk's are located in Burr Ridge, Ill.; Wheeling, Ill.; South Barrington, Ill.; Indianapolis; and Brookfield, Wis. McEnery is preparing to open in Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; and Tampa, Fla.