New fine dining option in Lakeview

Danielle Jester

Wed Jul 21 2021 07:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

A project years in the making recently came to fruition with the opening of the new Neon Cowboy Steakhouse and Saloon located at Hunters Hot Springs in Lakeview.

A project years in the making recently came to fruition with the opening of the new Neon Cowboy Steakhouse and Saloon located at Hunters Hot Springs in Lakeview.

Hunters Hot Springs owner Mike Watson and Geoffrey Koprowski, acting general manager of the Neon Cowboy, are excited to offer fine dining to the community.

Watson purchased Hunters Hot Springs three years ago and said opening a restaurant has been his dream for decades.

Koprowski has 30 years’ experience in restaurant and hotel ownership and consulting. Having come from the Portland area to be a part of the Neon Cowboy’s opening, he said he is enjoying Lakeview. “I love being in a town where people are neighborly,” he shared.

The restaurant held a soft opening earlier this month for invited guests and is now open to the public. The Neon Cowboy serves USDA prime steaks, pasta dishes, soups from scratch and more. The saloon offers a happy hour menu from 3 — 6 p.m. with a simple food menu and drink specials.

The best feeling, Koprowski said, was hearing people rave about the food to one another as they left the restaurant.

Prior to the soft opening, one of the restaurant’s freezers went down, jeopardizing more than $6,000 worth of proteins. Watson said he called fellow business owner Marcie Wade in the middle of the night and asked if she had any freezer space available. She sent a text back saying that Brian Hodnett at the Indian Village had some space available; the three worked together to salvage the meat.

“It’s not just that they did it, but they did it in the middle of the night,” Koprowski said of Wade and Hodnett’s generosity.

Watson is currently working with local ranchers to source beef directly from them. While it’s a work in progress, he said the response has been great. He and Koprowski are also looking for local farmers who are interested in supplying produce for the Neon Cowboy.

The restaurant’s head chef is Rob Czarnecki, who has over 25 years’ experience in the restaurant industry. “Opening a new place, you need someone to create a new menu,” Koprowski explained. The ability to create a menu is one of the qualities that sets a head chef apart from a cook, he said. Additionally, an executive head chef knows how to buy for the restaurant and understands the difference between different cuts of meat.

The Neon Cowboy and Hunters Hot Springs are currently hiring for positions in every department, including reception, housekeeping and dining.

Watson and Koprowski plan to introduce a room service menu in the coming weeks and, when staffing is adequate, they intend to have the Neon Cowboy open for breakfast and lunch as well.

And there are more big plans on the horizon. “I love that the vision didn’t stop with this grand opening,” Koprowski noted. Watson said he plans to expand the number of beds at Hunters and eventually wants to build greenhouses on the property so the Neon Cowboy can grow all its own produce. He also envisions making the venue into a wedding destination.

Watson said he wants to embrace the cowboy culture of the area by bringing in western memorabilia and possibly using local brands to decorate the saloon.

Be he and Koprowski are happy with the progress so far. “The feedback online has been phenomenal,” Koprowski said of guests’ reactions to the Neon Cowboy.

The Neon Cowboy Steakhouse and Saloon is open seven days a week; the steakhouse is open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the saloon is open 3 p.m. til late.

Hunters Hot Springs and the Neon Cowboy Steakhouse and Saloon are located at 18088 Hwy 395 in Lakeview and can be reached at 541-947-4242.