For the love of golf… and cooking. Sam Coopers story

By Tammy Curtis Apr14,2023

Sam’s dream of being a chef wasn’t at the forefront of his career choices, but the desire to cook had always been there. By the time he was six or seven he was cooking his own breakfast, which consisted mostly of scrambled eggs, and by the time he was in the eighth or ninth grade his menu options had expanded and cooking was something he really enjoyed. But, sports took center stage during his high school years and he would end up graduating with a golf scholarship so cooking was put on the back-burner and did not reemerge until he was injured and could no longer play golf. His first stint cooking for the public would be at Cooper’s Hawk Golf Course in Melbourne that was part of the family business. When his dad brought a second golf course in Cabot he went to work there for several months. From there he worked three years at Ridgepointe Golf Course in Jonesboro.“ An opening came up in March 2016and I came home,” he said. Sam is quick to point out that his skill of cooking came from the school of hard knocks. With no formal culinary experience, he learned by watching and working with others.

He loves the fact he is back in his own habitat and personally knows just about everyone who comes in and what they will order. “For instance, I know Joe Johnson is going to order a cheeseburger with pickles only and crispy fries,” Sam said. “And, he’s also a big fan of the pork chops.” “I try to do a lot of steaks. We are all about a good cut of meat. Pork chops are really popular. I also try to get a different type of seafood every weekend.” Sam said people who are not regulars are under the misconception that its more formal and he wants everyone to know it’s casual.“ When people think of golf course, they think country club and that it’s exclusive. We want everyone to come here. Pasta night each Wednesday is a crowd favorite and it’s not uncommon to arrive and find most tables are already reserved. “When we re-opened after COVID, business was slow. We did reservations only because it was limited seating and just kept it going. It’s not mandatory to have a reservation but Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights are usually busy and seating is limited.” Reservations are not required the seven days a week they are open for lunch. Sam said he can accommodate 40 inside and anywhere from20 to 25 outside the main dining area. “I try not to overload because of the size of the kitchen. ”The cooking area is pretty much confined to an 8 by 12 foot area that has to accommodate not just Sam, but those working with him.“ I have a couple boys from high school helping me out. They are learning and really love it. They do a great job. It’s amazing how we can do it in such a small space.” Sam has found his niche and loves it’s his hometown where he knows almost everyone who arrives at Cooper’s Hawk. Like any business there are days that are not busy and others when feeding 120for a golf tournament is fast paced.“ Summer is a busy time for lunch and the golf crowd.” Knowing what the customers want is key so Sam doesn’t make a lot of menu changes because of their popularity, but does try new recipes from time to time. He’s even catered some private home events and find that keeps his job fun and interesting.“ I learned a lot from a lot of people. I don’t see myself going any-where or doing any-thing else.”

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