The Next 20: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Casual-dining brand targets wine lovers with tasting room, retail shop

Cooper’s Hawk offers a full menu with suggested wine pairings and also sells its own branded wine retail.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants isn’t so much a casual-dining concept as it is a lifestyle chain for wine lovers.

The Countrywide, Ill.-based concept surged again in the Latest Year, putting it high in the Next 20, and on the cusp of the Nation’s Restaurant News Top 200 largest restaurant chains in the country.

Domestic systemwide sales at Cooper’s Hawk rose 26.3 percent, to $147.9 million, in the Latest Year.

Unit count rose 11.1 percent, to 20 locations, all of them large, high-volume operations: Estimated sales per location rose 6.4 percent in the Latest Year, to $7.8 million.

Tim and Dana McEnery opened the first Cooper’s Hawk in Orland Park, Ill., in 2005, combining a winery and restaurant with a Napa-style tasting room where customers can sample the brand’s own wines.


The menu of wine-friendly fare includes such dishes as blackened ahi tuna, above, braised short rib and gnocchi bolognese. Photo: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

“There’s so much competition in this industry,” Tim McEnery said in 2010. The winery “does separate us from the average upscale-casual restaurant, as does the diversification of our revenue streams with the wine tasting room and the retail portion.” 

The chain makes its own wine at a production facility in Countryside. The winery produces 50 wines that are sold in Cooper’s Hawk restaurants. It also has a Wine of the Month Club, whose members can receive a bottle of wine each month and discounts on wine purchases for a monthly fee.

While Cooper’s Hawk is known for its wine, it’s still a restaurant. On the menu are dishes like short rib risotto, pistachio-crusted grouper and gnocchi bolognese with braised short rib. It also offers lunch entrées, sandwiches and salads.

The menu, of course, recommends what wines pair best with each item.

Keys to Success

The winery: No large-scale chain does wine quite the way Cooper’s Hawk does. The company’s production facility in Illinois makes wine and ships it across the country, with 50 wines and as many as 15 specialty blends.

Retailing: Cooper’s Hawk has a significant retail business. Its restaurants include Napa-style tasting rooms where customers can sample from a rotating selection of wines. It also has a Wine of the Month Club, where customers can get a bottle of wine a month and discounts for a monthly fee.

Patience: Cooper’s Hawk has been a hot name in the restaurant business for years, but has kept a patient approach to expansion, adding locations as real estate becomes available. That has ensured strong, steady growth for years.

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