July 02, 2014 - With updates from top to bottom, The Lakes Grille on Dixie Highway is a go-to place for the entire family.
Servers Kylie Balkwell and Sean Brumbaugh present some especially appetizing appetizers, Crab Cakes, Cod Puppies, and Calamari. Photos by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
That's the way the family-run restaurant was created.
"At our Commerce restaurant, we're very hands-on," said Irene Lock, who owns the restaurant with her husband Hank Lock. "Customers become our friends. We know about their kids and grandkids."
"We have good food and good service, every burger made fresh and made well," Hank said.
Their son, executive chef Michael Mason, designed the menu especially for families.
"I've always loved cooking," said Mason, who started learning to cook when he was 7 years old. "Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor or a chef. I went the chef route."
Hank and Irene renovated the entire restaurant, formerly Red Knapps, cleaning it from the roof down, all woodwork refreshed, several new TVs and new speaker system, new lights, tables, chairs, and booths, floors refinished, and parking lot resurfaced.
With new windows, seating up front can be made into an open air sports box when the weather is nice.
"That's the most popular place now. People like sitting here," Hank said.
A point of pride is their new 500-bottle wine cellar.
"It's set to 58 degrees, perfect," Mason said.
"Whatever people want and like, we've got it," Irene said. "If you'd like a 25-year-old scotch, we have it."
Mason created several dishes for the restaurant, including burgers stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, sauces, and other ingredients.
"You take two thin patties, and stuff it like pastry – it's delicious," the chef said.
Entrees also include crab cakes, with 97 percent crab meat, fall-off-the-bone ribs, pizza, chili, amazing appetizers, sandwiches, melt-in-your-mouth bread, homemade mac-and-cheese, and salads, Irene said.
"The crab cakes are to die for," she said.
Ingredients are made fresh every day, with entrees made to order.
"Only ketchup and mustard from a bottle – everything else is made from scratch," Mason said.
"The pizzas are extra good, with homemade sauces," Irene said.
Hank and Irene opened their first restaurant in Commerce Township's lake country four years ago, and opened the Clarkston location in March.
"Ten years ago, Michael said if this location ever comes up for sale, jump on it," said Hank, who has lived in the Clarkston area for 19 years. "We love the location, the community, this area. It's a great, growing place with a great school district."
The restaurant's presents its lakes theme with photos and wall decor and a waterfall display up front. The stuffed animals formerly on display are gone, with one exception – a bear.
"The bear will be our mascot," Hank said.
Call the Lakes Grille, 6722 Dixie Highway, at 248-297-5132.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.