Above Par

Build a better burger and they will come. A big, juicy, and flavorful hamburger… that’s what I remember about my first visit to Glenview Champions Country Club in The Villages several years ago. A friend and I stopped for a burger after golf one day, and I couldn’t wait to return to try the dinner menu. 

Since that first burger, I’ve spent birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays at the restaurant that also sports one of the greatest views in The Villages, overlooking the golf course’s ninth hole.

“If you build your burger business, you will entice customers to return and try your other items,” says Randy Perkins, who has owned the restaurant for three years. “We focus on buying quality Angus beef that is fresh and never frozen.”

Glenview has one of the trendiest menu selections in The Villages. From flatbreads and specialty salads to fresh seafood and creative pastas, the selections are varied and on the cutting edge of culinary delights.

“We work hard at staying atop of what’s hot in the industry,” Perkins says. “We research the trends and try to create dishes that are a little different.”

Some of those trendy items include Antonio’s Flatbread, a seasoned flatbread topped with marinara, fresh mozzarella, fontina cheeses, and pepperoni. My new favorite appetizer has to be the Sicilian Stuffed Shrimp, an unusual combination of shrimp stuffed with mozzarella and romano cheese, served with a fresh marinara sauce on the side. Even the simple touches, like flavored butter with the bread, add a touch of elegance to dinner. 

“We often hear about a restaurant serving something new, and we can say ‘Glenview is already doing that,’” he adds.

Perkins says that he and Glenview’s popular chef Randy McCracken are always tinkering with the menu.

“That’s the great thing about working independently,” he explains.  “We can look at what’s working and what’s not.”

What does work at Glenview Champions Country Club are the steaks, which are hand-cut every day. Only certified Black Angus beef is used and it’s always fresh. Perkins is adamant that the restaurant’s beef can never be frozen, which will cause meat to lose flavor.

Steaks are available everyday and prices range from $14.95 for the Bourbon Street Sirloin to $19.95 for the Filet Mignon. Choose a house or Caesar salad or one of Chef McCracken’s homemade signature soups for a top-of-the-line dining experience.

In addition to the regular menu items, Glenview’s nightly specials have created a loyal following of repeat customers from all over the Tri-County area. Mondays are popular with the “Surf & Turf” — Black Angus Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail for $22.95. The Tuesday regulars return for the Rack of Lamb for $21.95. Steak lovers find that Glenview is the place to be on Wednesdays for Steak Lover’s Night while Thursdays feature prime rib. 

MY MOST RECENT EVENING dining experience at Glenview was a Tuesday night. While my husband had the featured rack of lamb, I ordered a filet mignon. Both entrées were as fresh and flavorful as the menu promised. Both paired well with the Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at $6.95 per glass. We were pleased to see a nice selection of wines offered by the glass — not just red or white house wines that many other restaurants tend to limit themselves to.

With more than 33 years experience in the restaurant business, Perkins knows that serving fresh, quality food is the key to success. And variety and excellent service keeps customers interested in returning.

A native of Miami and a graduate of the University of Florida, Perkins is proud that many of his employees have been with the restaurant for a long time. In fact, the dining room manager Cheri Roberts of Summerfield has been with Glenview since it opened in 2000. She left just long enough to help Perkins open the Mallory Square Country Club restaurant, in which he is a part-owner, but she returned to Glenview where she oversees the wait staff. 

“We try to create an environment where employees want to work,” he explains. “Employees make their own decisions. Empowerment is the word.”

HAVING LONG-TERM SERVERS who know the menu is definitely a plus in a business where turnover is often high. On my last dining experience to Glenview, my husband and I were impressed with our server Christen, who was very attentive. She could name all of the beers and wines on the menu and tell us a little about each one, something of a rarity among young servers in our area. The three-year veteran of Glenview was just as knowledgeable about the ingredients in our food. It was apparent as she went to other tables around us that customers knew her from their previous visits.

“We do have attentive service,” says Randy. “Our servers do a good job accommodating special requests and needs, too.” 

He points out that bartenders are also knowledgeable and friendly, and the bar area does a good job of serving food for folks who stop in for a quick bite before or after a game of golf or tennis.

In addition to the famous hamburgers, a variety of sandwiches, salads, and soups are on the lunch menu along with daily specials. A few weeks ago, fresh Florida Grouper Fingers made an appearance that I think actually improved my afternoon of golf. It was hard to pass up a hamburger, but since good Grouper has been hard to find lately, I decided to give it a try, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I love sitting in Glenview’s expansive dining room with the panoramic view of the golf course, but I equally enjoy the patio where light fare and happy hour are served from 3-6pm.

While Glenview is only a golf cart ride away for Villagers, it is also open to the public with plenty of free parking and easy access via Buena Vista Boulevard in The Villages.

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