The Times West Virginian

October 6, 2013

Copper House Grill: Affordable fine dining

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

PLEASANT VALLEY — Copper House Grill is offering fine dining in a casual atmosphere and at affordable prices.

At the end of July, co-owners Bill Oliver and Jason DeFrance opened the restaurant at 1155 Airport Road in Pleasant Valley.

They have both been in the restaurant/bar industry for many years and became friends because they were business neighbors on Merchant Street. DeFrance used to operate River City Grill, and Oliver previously had Billy O’s, Three Olives and Club 110. DeFrance still owns The Pub on Locust Avenue.

“We just thought that it would be a great partnership to go into business together,” Oliver said. “This is our first joint venture.”

More than two years ago, they came up with an idea on “two napkins and a placemat” for a nice and different restaurant for Marion County, he said.

DeFrance said his family has owned the property on Airport Road, which is right off the interstate, for a long time.

“I always kind of knew it would be a good location to build something on and was just waiting for the right time,” he said.

They broke ground on the construction of the restaurant in December 2011, and the project took about 18 months to complete, DeFrance said.

When the structure was being built, people in the community often asked who was building the house with the copper roof in Pleasant Valley. This is how the restaurant came to be named Copper House Grill.

“We’re trying to make it a place where the people of Fairmont can ... take their kids or their family and have some place really nice to go, and for me and Jason, it’s something that we can be very proud of giving back to Fairmont,” Oliver said.

The venue is nonsmoking inside, is kid-friendly, and has a relaxing feel. The restaurant also features a deck where customers can enjoy their lunch or dinner outside.

The menu includes something for everybody, and the prices are reasonable, the owners said.

Customers can order lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, oysters, crab cakes, crab dip, salmon, tuna, a seafood platter or steak. The popular lunch item called the “Billy Boy,” named for Oliver, features flat iron steak with peppers, onions and mushrooms, all served in a bread bowl. People can also get pepperoni rolls, wings, hoagies and grilled cheese sandwiches, or build their own burgers or wraps.

The head chef, Ryan “Chopps” Shaffer, graduated from Fairmont State’s culinary program and has been a chef for 14 years. He spent seven years in Key West, Fla., where he worked as a chef and a manager of a water sport company.

He incorporated his own experiences and worked with the owners to design Copper House Grill’s diverse menu. Customers have fallen in love with the key lime mustard, which is very popular in the Florida Keys, for dipping their fried food and as a sandwich topping, Shaffer said.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without the team I have in the kitchen and the team that I have out front, because every day we’re learning and every day we’re growing, and it’s a good feeling to have,” he said. “I have a smile on my face when I leave from work, and I have a smile on my face when I come to work.”

Copper House Grill has a full bar, with about 20 different wine selections and a wide variety of draft and imported beers.

On Oct. 12, the venue will open its downstairs as a night club, equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, lighting for the dance floor, and two garage doors that lead to a large patio. The club will feature DJs, bands, karaoke and different theme nights.

DeFrance commented that Copper House Grill is a mix of a sports bar, where people can go to watch games, and a fine dining establishment, where customers can get steak and seafood. And once the downstairs opens, an entertainment element will join the mix.

A private room, which seats 36 people, is available to reserve for birthday parties, Christmas parties, reunions or meetings. Also, the downstairs can be opened up to larger groups for special events.

DeFrance said he expected the restaurant to be busy from the start, but business has been even better than he expected.

“We’ve been getting a lot of repeat business,” he said. “We have a lot of regulars already.”

The owners suggested that people call for reservations, especially for larger parties, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which are busy days. If customers are in a hurry, they can place a to-go order, or call in their order in advance so they can sit down and quickly eat.

Oliver said the support of Fairmont and Marion County has been unbelievable, and he’s thrilled with the turnout the restaurant has gotten so far.

“It’s been very successful,” he said. “We’ve got really good employees, from the kitchen staff to our servers.”

The restaurant currently has about 30 staff members. Oliver said they always welcome feedback and suggestions from customers and strive to quickly work on any issues that arise.

“I know if you give us a chance one time, if you come down and sample our food one time, you will be back again and again,” he said.

Copper House Grill is open noon to midnight Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant can be reached by phone at 304-534-8323 or by fax at 304-534-8546. Copper House Grill is also on Facebook.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.