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Findley Lake restaurant reopens after 10 years

September 2, 2017
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

FINDLEY LAKE - After more than a decade of being used as a storage building, the I-86 Express Restaurant in Findley Lake is serving up good food once again.

The restaurant, owned by Findley Lake Properties Inc., which also owns the Holiday Inn Express hotel on the same grounds, fired up the grill and started serving on Aug. 2. The restaurant held its grand opening on Sunday, Aug. 21, featuring a discounted menu and samples of its fare.

The I-86 Express was built along with the hotel in 2001. The complex was built by Norbert Cross as a complement to Peek n' Peak resort, which he owned at that time.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Adam Thornton, manager of the I-86 restaurant, prepares to serve new customers

The restaurant was closed after a few years of operation, however. The most common reason given for the restaurant's demise was that the prices were too high.

Maroun Kneiher, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express, spearheaded the renovation and reopening of the restaurant and agreed that this was probably the case. "I compared the old menu to ours. Some of the items were the same price then as they are now on our menu," he said.

Cross sold the hotel and restaurant, but the next owners kept the I-86 Express closed, using it as a storage building for several years. The big blue sign was covered over and no improvements were made. Still, guests as well as people traveling by on the I-86 Interstate would inquire if the restaurant were open.

When the Holiday Inn Express was sold to new owners from Michigan and Findley Lake Properties was incorporated, the possibility of reopening the I-86 Express was immediately considered. Once several improvements had been made to the hotel, work began to renovate the restaurant in February.

It took several months to complete preparations for the restaurant. One of the hardest things was finding the right person to manage it. Kneiher finally hired Adam Thornton.

"Adam was referred by several people," Kneiher said. "So I checked his references and brought him in for an interview.

"I've been trying to make many improvements to the hotel, and now we have the restaurant. It's rewarding to have something there for the guests and to tell them that we do have a restaurant on site."

Kneiher said that he hopes the restaurant will become a favorite dining place for the people of the area as well as for guests.

"I want the town to be happy with the food," he said. "I want people in the area to be happy with the food."

The response has been good so far, Kneiher added.

"Everyone has been happy with the prices and even happier with how the food tastes," he said.

The 1-86 Express offers many choices to the visitor including half-pound hamburgers, pizza, subs, salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts. One specialty item diners can try is the Fatoush salad which is Kneiher's personal addition.

"The fatoush does not come with a dressing, but has extra virgin olive oil mixed in, as well as a secret ingredient," he said. "It's just a very healthy choice. It has veggies and an extra ingredient that we add to make it good,"

Kneiher said he and the owners are "very excited" to see the restaurant become a reality. He said the fare will develop as time goes by.

"As for now, we like the menu the way it is, but there is always room for expanding."



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