SWANTON –– In the 17 years that Mike Swim has been club pro at Champlain Country Club, he has come to know all aspects of the 18-hole course.
Now, he is getting to know the restaurant even better.
After watching five parties lease the on-site restaurant from the member-owned club over the last five years, Mike thought it simply made sense for him to manage the restaurant, starting this year, for the first time.
“I had a feel for the place, after 30 years of being in the golf business,” Mike said.
The new concept behind Champlain Restaurant is twofold, Mike said: return it to a club-run facility that caters to its 350 total members, while providing a welcoming atmosphere to the members of the general public that also want to use it, whether for a great meal outside or a private function.
“And the ways to reach those goals are with good quality, pricing and service,” Mike said. “It’s been great so far. There have been a lot of great reviews.”
Enter Bruce Crawford, kitchen manager, who is making the new menu happen. His specialty is comfort food, and he describes his Champlain Restaurant menu as “food that you will recognize when you order it, and food that you will recognize on your plate.”
Some sample items include: calamari, lobster rolls and chicken wings as appetizers; burgers and sandwiches; entrees that range from steak tips to grilled salmon; and a kids’ menu, as well as desserts. (And, yes, take-out is available.)
Of the 12 people on staff at Champlain Restaurant, about a third are in the kitchen, assisting Bruce; they are graduates of the Northwest Technical Center, in St. Albans.
“They’re fantastic,” Bruce said. “This is good experience for them.”
Originally from the Albany, N.Y., area, Bruce went to the University of Utah after high school, “to become a ski bum, but fell into cooking.” He has cooked in the restaurant and hospitality industries for 35 years, training under “a lot of excellent chefs” across the U.S. He spent many years in Utah, Colorado, San Diego and Atlanta. His most recent stint – 16 years – was in Boston.
He moved to Vermont four years ago and lives in Burlington, although he is hunting for a place in St. Albans. He plans on settling in Vermont for good.
“There are a lot of great places to live in the world,” Bruce said. “Vermont is one of them.”
As Mike finds his groove managing two jobs at Champlain Country Club, he is learning a lot from Bruce. They are already mulling future plans for Champlain Restaurant, including limited winter hours.
As a team, they also want to rebuild Champlain Restaurant to a premier local facility for functions, such as weddings, company outings and parties.
“We’d like to restore that,” Bruce said.