Old friends have entered into a partnership as co-owners of a country club in the town of Allegheny.
The new faces of River Forest Country Club are David Rice and Eric Meyhofer, who join co-owners Andi and Steve Irwin.
The new general manager is Gary Miller of Gilpin.
Previous owners Jamie and Robert Rankin both recently sold their stakes, but remain members of the club.
“He was very amicable,” Steve Irwin said of the transfer of ownership.
River Forest occupies 450 acres of the property dating back to the 1780s.
“This was Nimakulin in the late 19th century,” Irwin said of the scenic property surrounded by hills near the Allegheny River.
Lily’s Restaurant opened in River Forest in 2019, closed during the pandemic and It reopened earlier This spring.
“We are very open,” Erwin said of River Forest, dispelling any rumors that Lily is still closed. “We have regular business hours, and we intend to add more hours as we grow. We will offer everything golfers expect and a quality fall menu.”
Joyce Hans | Tribune review
Lily’s at River Forest Country Club, white, vintage-style, 1960s interior dining room pays homage to the time the club was built. The bar, outdoor patio, indoor dining room and banquet room are all open to the public.
Unlike most country clubs, River Forest does not require membership or sponsorship, although membership is still an option.
“Anyone can join as long as they act as soon as they are here. We are open to everyone,” Irwin said.
All three men have connections to the Alle Keski Valley, where the family resides nearby.
“We’re River Forest, we robbed the country club. We’re open to the public and the community, and we’re here for the valley,” Irwin said.
New plans include ramping up social events at the club, with a range of themed weekend events like Veterans Honor Dinner, Prime Rib Saturday, Whing Golf Almost Winter Classic, Comedy Club Night and River Forest Drone Fest.
Mayhofer, who is a mechanical engineer, said he wanted to participate because he grew up in the town of Allegheny.
“This is in my backyard. We all go together on this,” Mayhofer said. “We do great things with our friends.”
The course is subject to upgrades and improvements to green spaces.
“We have two of the best engineers here in the world,” said Steve Irwin. “In the past two months, we have brought the course back by 70%.”
Rice, also a mechanical engineer, said he’s focused on bringing the Greens back.
“There were big patches of dead or not patched grass,” Rice said of the 18-hole course.
New to River Forest is Whing Golf, a game that’s similar to regular golf, but only a Whinger, a paddle and a ball are required.
The Whing Golf Almost Winter Classic is scheduled for November 18th.
Before the pandemic, 40% of River Forest’s business came from wedding bookings and Lily’s bookings.
Executive Chef Nash Michalski, 22, grew up in Saxonburg and graduated from Knosh High School in 2018.
He graduated with a culinary arts degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and lives in Freeport.
“I love making things I have never done before,” he said. “I am excited about the new owners. They give me the freedom to cook, and I will change the menu seasonally.”
A modern feature created by Michalski is a roasted duck breast with an orange maple topping served with Manzanilla olives and a zest of peeled orange.
Popular menu items include Porterhouse Chop ($23), Bruschetta Hoetzel ($12), and Lily Burger ($13).
Cristina Serafini | Tribune review
Chef Nash Michalsky serves a dish featuring roasted duck breast with navel orange plantain, Manzanilla olives, and orange zest at River Forest Country Club on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.
Lily’s features a covered outdoor deck. Inside, the 1960s includes a large bar that overlooks the stadium.
“We just want to make it a great place that people want to be in,” Mayhofer said.
River Forest is located off Route 356 just off the Freeport Bridge at 130 Club House Drive in the town of Allegheny.
Lily’s is open 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays and closed on Mondays.