Wine galore: An Inside look at International Drive’s Cooper’s Hawk

Reporter-Orlando Business Journal

 

Inside Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant on 8005 International Drive, visitors will have no trouble spotting a bottle.

The new location, which officially opens Sept. 15, carries about 527 cases of wine — more than 6,000 bottles that can be seen stored on walls all throughout the eatery. It’s almost like eating inside a large wine cellar.

“In a day, we go through 20 cases. In a weekend, we go through 40 to 50 cases,” said Cara MahlerCooper’s Hawk general manager of the I-Dive location.

The 12,400-square-foot eatery is part of Unicorp National Developments Inc.’s $200 million I-Shops project. The restaurant can seat up to 340 people, which includes indoor and outdoor seating with patio space.

The I-Drive location has 206 employees and saw an influx of about 2,000 applications to fill positions from waiters to chefs and hosts. And while this marks the 16th location for the Orland Park, Ill.-based chain, this is the chain’s second Central Florida location with its first local restaurant at Waterford Lakes Town Center.

And while Cooper’s Hawk specialty is wine with more than 40 different varieties to choose from, the restaurant also has a few signature dishes, as well.

Mahler said the most popular dish is Trio of Medallions, which is a series of three 3-ounce filets each topped with a different crust accompanied by Mary’s mashed potatoes and asparagus.

In addition, the restaurant sports a more than 60-item menu including a breakfast menu, which is a first for the chain.

Cooper’s Hawk Chef and Director of Culinary and Beverage Matt McMillan had been working on the breakfast menu items for about six months. Said Mahler, “They placed a test kitchen in one of our stores back in Chicago, and they have been practicing it for months.”

Cooper‘s Hawk Winery & Restaurant joins several other restaurants in the I-Shops development including BJ’s Restaurant & Brew House, Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Check out the pictures to get an exclusive first look inside the restaurant and some of the menu items.

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