An attractive hilltop view and an ancient castle inspired the name of the new Canterbury Hill Winery and Restaurant in Holts Summit.
Proprietor DJ Drury has taken on transforming the existing winery into a full-service restaurant and medieval getaway. Stepping back in time, every aspect of the new venue takes on the medieval theme. From the large iron gates that greet guests as they arrive to the names of each menu item, Drury has paid attention to the smallest detail.
Hoping to maintain between 40 and 60 employees, the new business owner has expanded the existing building, added additional indoor and outdoor seating, as well as made changes to the upstairs banquet center.
"I want to make this an entertainment hot spot," Drury noted.
From parties to wedding receptions, comedy shows and murder mysteries, Drury has big plans for the brick building dubbed "the Hill."
After signing a contract in September and taking possession in December, Drury officially opened the local restaurant last Tuesday.
During the few months of preparation, the restaurant owner picked out high-end silverware, new chairs and made the many food selections. While figuring out the details to come, several physical aspects of the space underwent a serious transformation.
The previous wine production room set apart by glass walls was removed from both the downstairs and upstairs areas, adding more table space and seating. Wine barrels were custom built into the lower level wall, adding a touch of character for the "barrel room." Other custom-made hangings adorn the walls, and low lighting plays to the 18th century castle atmosphere. New chairs and an overall touch-up of the walls complete the overall look. Drury plans to display artwork by local artists in the front room, a more private setting tucked away from the main dining room.
Changes made to the wine cellar include new brick storage units, increasing the available capacity of chilled wine bottles from 800 to 2,000. Ten beers were added on tap, as well as 20 different types of bottled beer. The wine selection currently includes numerous types, all with a special Canterbury Hill name. A "Sir Sips-a-lot" sampler allows customers to taste the wine at their tables, complete with a guide to each vino.
From the kitchen standpoint, the area was expanded, almost doubling the size, and everything was replaced except for the sinks. An office was also transformed into a walk-in refrigerator.
On the second level, the existing hardwood floors were revamped, and the service kitchen was stocked with all new catering supplies. The banquet area housed in the Capital View room can now seat 200 people and will be used for special events. Drury also hopes to extend a balcony out of the large room sometime in the future.
An unfinished addition that includes both levels will add nearly 2,300 square feet to the building when finished. The extra space will house offices and additional storage upstairs, while downstairs will be turned into a complete prep kitchen, an employee break room and bathrooms.
"We don't want to interfere with the main kitchen for those (upstairs) events," Drury explained. With the outside almost finished, he hopes the interior will be complete within the next five months.
Outside, Drury added seating, with more than 250 seats set up. The overall landscape of the area has been prepped for more elaborate plans to come. The current two acres used for growing will also be expanded to seven acres. Drury plans to put a production area back on site, and provide two house wines prepared from the winery's production.
Having been opened for nearly a week, Drury is pleased with the local support so far.
The lunch and dinner menus feature similar items, with steaks, salads, burgers, seafood selections and more. There are approximately seven items that differ from day to night. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sundays, Drury said the last call for the kitchen on Friday and Saturdays will be made at 10 p.m.
"We're not just a winery," Drury noted. The full-service restaurant intends to keep up its 18th century theme, hosting several events and treating its customers like royalty, keeping them coming back time and time again.