Europe is in the rearview mirror in Inverness.
The old Van Der Valk restaurant overlooking Lakeside Country Club in Inverness closed last April, much to the dismay of golfers who enjoyed a brew and sandwich after a long day on the links.
But the expansive building is in business again, albeit with a fresh new look, new owner and new name. The Lakeside Grill of Inverness opened for business in December and has replaced the European dishes with simpler fare and more moderate prices.
New owner Bob Black said he’s excited about this new venture and is glad to see life again breathed into the building. This is the 14th restaurant for Black and he couldn’t be happier. When he learned of the vacancy and toured the area, he knew it could be a local hit.
Black said he developed a philosophy when he opened Lakeside Grill: “Have a simple menu and do it well.”
The restaurant’s been open almost two months and, through word of mouth, Black said he’s already had 15-16 banquet bookings.
Black describes his new place as an upscale neighborhood bar and grill but with moderate prices — ideal for the demographics of the area.
Lakeside Grill of Inverness at 4543 Windmill Drive off U.S. 41, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The restaurant can accommodate 75 people in the banquet room, 40-50 on the outside porch and 70 at the inside dining room and bar.
The menu is dotted with a variety of sandwiches, hamburgers, wings and entrees.
Black said he wants to get the word out that Lakeside Grill is not just for golfers. It’s a place where everyone from Inverness to Crystal River can come, enjoy good food, excellent customer service and take in the ambience.
The restaurant offers expansive views of the 18-hole golf course, which is frequented by locals and out-of-towners.
Black said Lakeside will offer mobile ordering while you’re out on the links. Craving a beer and wings while on the 13th hole? By the time you reach the 15th hole, your order will be there, courtesy of a staffer with a mobile cart.
Thanks to a special license, Black can take liquor onto the golf course.
Black said he framed his menu after looking at the demographics of Citrus County and taking into consideration income levels.
Chris and Ingrid Matser, former owners of the Van Der Valk, closed that eatery in April 2019. They had owned it three years, but told the Chronicle they couldn’t make a go of it with the European-themed restaurant.
Black brings experience to the table, having owned Subway and Dunkin' Donuts franchises. His most recent experience was owning Shuckers Bar & Grill in Ocala which, after seven years, he recently sold.
Some signature dishes include the Lakeside wings and hand-breaded mozzarella cheese sticks and fried catfish po' boy sandwich. And the meatballs are made from his wife Lisa’s grandma’s recipe.
Black and his family still live in Ocala, but he hopes to move to Citrus County.
Black said he did little in the way of cosmetic improvements to the building. It was pretty much move-in ready. He has 10 employees.
“We’re building a relationship — one customer at a time,” he said. “And we’re building a relationship with our staff.”
Clark Smith, who owns the golf course, said the Van Der Valks had a reputation of having expensive European-themed entrees and that probably didn’t resonate with all the patrons.
“(Black’s) business plan is going to really meld with the golfing public we have out there,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be good for him and the golf course itself. He’s put a pretty good staff together in a short amount of time.”
For more information about Lakeside Grill, visit lakesidegrillfl.com.