The new faces at the club in Freeport, Pa. are David Rice and Eric Meyhofer, who join co-owners Andi and Steve Irwin. The new general manager is Gary Miller of Gilpin. Previous co-owners Jamy and Robert Rankin recently sold their interest but remain members of the club. Unlike most country clubs, River Forest doesn’t require a membership or sponsorship, although membership is still an option.
Longtime friends have partnered as co-owners of the River Forest Country Club in Freeport, Pa., the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
The club’s new faces are David Rice and Eric Meyhofer, joining co-owners Andi and Steve Irwin. The new general manager is Gary Miller of Gilpin.
Previous co-owners Jamy and Robert Rankin recently sold their interest but remain members of the club, the Tribune-Review reported.
“It was very amicable,” Steve Irwin said of the transition of ownership.
River Forest occupies 450 acres on a property that dates to the 1780s, the Tribune-Review reported.
“This was the Nemacolin of the late 1800s,” Irwin said of the scenic property surrounded by rolling hills near the Allegheny River.
Lily’s, the restaurant at River Forest, opened in 2019, closed during the pandemic and reopened this spring, the Tribune-Review reported.
“We are so open,” Irwin said of River Forest, dispelling any rumors that Lily’s remains closed. “We have regular hours, and we intend to add hours more as we grow. We are going to provide everything golfers expect and a fall menu that’s high-end.”
Unlike most country clubs, River Forest doesn’t require a membership or sponsorship, although membership is still an option, the Tribune-Review reported.
“Anybody can join as long as they behave once they’re here. We’re open to everybody,” Irwin said.
All three men have ties to the Alle-Kiski Valley, with family residing nearby.
“We are River Forest; take away the country club,” Irwin said. “We are open to the public and the community, and we’re here for the Valley.”
New plans include ramping up social events at the club, with a lineup of themed weekend events such as a Veterans Recognition Dinner, Prime Rib Saturday, Whing Golf Almost Winter Classic, Comedy Club Night and River Forest Drone Fest, the Tribune-Review reported.
Meyhofer, a mechanical engineer, said he wanted to get involved because he grew up in Allegheny Township.
“This is in my backyard. We’re all going at this together,” Meyhofer said. “We do cool stuff with our friends.”
The course is undergoing upgrades and improvements to the greens, the Tribune-Review reported.
“We’ve got two of the best engineers here in the world,” Irwin said. “In the last two months, we’ve brought the course back by 70%.”
Rice, also a mechanical engineer, said he is focused on bringing the greens back.
“There were large patches of dead grass or (parts that) were not getting maintained,” Rice said of the 18-hole course.
New to River Forest is Whing Golf, a variation on golf that requires only a ball, a putter and a “whinger,” a golf ball throwing device, the Tribune-Review reported.
The Whing Golf Almost Winter Classic is scheduled for Nov. 18.
Before the pandemic, 40% of River Forest’s business was generated from wedding bookings and Lily’s, the Tribune-Review reported.
Executive Chef Nash Michalski, 22, grew up in Saxonburg and graduated from Knoch 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’ve never made before,” he said. “I’m excited for the new owners. They give me culinary freedom, and I’m going to change the menu seasonally.”
A recent feature created by Michalski was a seared duck breast with maple orange glaze served with Manzanilla olives and blanched orange zest, the Tribune-Review reported.
Popular menu items include the Porterhouse Chop, Bruschetta Hoetzel and the Lily Burger.
Lily’s features an outdoor covered deck. Inside, a 1960s retro vibe includes a large bar overlooking the course.
“We just want to make it an awesome place where people want to be,” Meyhofer said.