Quintin Lew was enjoying retirement and wasn’t actively looking to score a new gig.
But when the Katonah resident and former Verizon executive found out that the Somers Golf Club where he played was up for grabs, he knew he had both the drive and marketing chops to give it a good shot.
Before long he and business partner Hussein Khoder had lined up the purchase of the Somers Pointe on West Hill Drive in Heritage Hills, a sprawling residential development off Route 202.
The club’s 18-hole course is paired with the currently closed banquet hall and restaurant known as The Pinnacle. A nine-hole course, on the East Hill, was also part of the package.
(In some circles, the restaurant and bar is called “The 19th Hole,” Quintin said.)
Despite its name, The Pinnacle was, sadly, no longer the tops in its game; its décor was outdated and its parking lot, notoriously pockmarked with potholes.
To be somewhat blunt, it was a jewel in the rough.
But yet Lew and Khoder, founder and CEO of McGrath Management Services, saw great potential in its bones.
“It once was the centerpiece of the community, and we want to make it great again,” Lew said.
Lew and Khoder formed Hudson Valley Golf and Wellness (HVGW), a limited liability corporation, and bought the facility from HNA Group, a Chinese conglomerate said to be involved in numerous industries, including aviation, real estate and tourism.
Reacting to local scuttlebutt that HVGW had gotten the property for a song, Lew said he couldn’t reveal the purchase price at present, though it eventually will become public knowledge.
However, Lew would say that it was a lot less than the amount of moola he and Khoder were spending to spruce the place up.
The banquet hall, the scene of many family celebrations over the years, has been freshly painted and its lighting fixtures replaced, Lew said.
The bar has been extended—basically doubling its size—so that patrons can enjoy gorgeous views of the greens. The restaurant’s kitchen has gotten a good going over and its outdoor wood-burning oven will soon be turning out pizzas on the patio.
The pro shop has been moved to the other side of the building where it is more visible and accessible.
Executive chef hired
In a letter to Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey and Heritage Hill Society president Pat Ploss, Khoder announced Saturday that an executive chef for the new restaurant has been hired.
Peter Creegan is a veteran of the Culinary Institute of America and is currently executive chef at the Lexington Square Café in Mount Kisco.
The hire, Khoder said in the letter, brings the new owners “one step closer” to getting the restaurant back on its feet.
“The building is easy, the artist in the kitchen was the real challenge,” he wrote.
As for Creegan, “If anyone has ever dined in his current place of employment, they will quickly realize that he is the right choice and the best selection for this special assignment.”
Khoder wrote that he has personally used Creegan’s services for family events such as christenings and birthday parties.
“His creative talent and broad appeal is just right for our community and will make will raise the Pinnacle beyond the apex. I hope everyone in HH (Heritage Hills) and Somers in general welcomes him with open arms.”
Goodies on the green
There are plans afoot to have a mobile goodie cart ply the fairways where golfers frustrated by landing in the sand trap once too often might be in need of a snack, soda or … something stronger.
Think of it as having a “club in one hand, and a beer in the other,” Lew said. “It’s just the nature of the game.”
But more importantly, the restaurant will be open all year round. The previous owners closed it during the winter months.
It will be open seven days a week for brunch, lunch, and dinner, Lew said.
Planned are dining events based on certain cuisines such as Asian and Italian.
It also aims to appeal to a more diverse clientele, Lew said.
“We want to evolve from that (having an exclusive, country club image) to being more inclusive and supportive of the community,” he explained.
It will be “a whole new environment and atmosphere,” he promised.
Local interest in Somers Pointe’s fate has been keen, Lew said, adding: “So many people have been stopping in, wondering when it (the restaurant and bar) will re-open.”
The Pinnacle already has an “embedded customer base” in the 5,000 or so residents of Heritage Hills.
In its new life, The Pinnacle hopes to draw lovers of fine dining from all around the region. The 18-hole golf course will continue to offer “extended play” memberships as well as remain open to the general public for the occasional game.
The nine-hole golf course is currently closed because of problems with its irrigation and sprinkler systems, among other things.
Lew said that, while there are “no guarantees,” the new owners are “working diligently” to re-open the smaller course before the end of the season which, depending on the weather, could last until early December.
Town grants waiver
Lew and Khoder, who closed on the property on June 18, are aiming to launch their new culinary venture by Labor Day—Monday, Sept. 3.
The previous owners had a liquor license, but it expired in April. Besides, Lew said, he and Khoder wanted to “start fresh,” so they are applying for a new one.
Fortunately, the town has given them a boost by granting a waiver of 30-day waiting period for the issuance of a new liquor license, the first step in the parallel state Liquor Authority approval process.
Although confident that it will come through in time, Lew said—metaphorically—that the license is still “one of the long poles in the tent.”
Home delivery on menu
As part of its swing toward public service, the new eatery plans to deliver gourmet meals locally.
Lots of Heritage Hills folks are older and may not “get out much or have access to good food,” Lew said.
“We’re really very excited about that,” he added.
Ploss said the town and residents are closely following the progress being made at The Pinnacle.
“After seeing years of deterioration there, it’s terrific to see it being brought back,” she said.