Spring is probably my most favorite time of year. April, to me, is like a soft quiet piano solo that starts ever so gently with a splash of color like the yellow daffodils, purple hyacinths and red tulips. As the keys of the piano are stroked, the rhythm becomes more intense with thunderstorms and rain, culminating in May’s beautiful budding green trees and bright forsythia bushes. Even the smell of the first cut of fresh grass gives off its own kind of aroma that smells nearly as good as a bouquet of flowers. It’s an exciting time of year filled with freshness and rejuvenation.
This year we kick off the month of May on the first Saturday with a Kentucky Derby party at both Springfield Grilles. The Springfield Grille in Mars has hosted this event for the past five years with many of their regular customers anticipating the fun festivities that include prize basket giveaways, games and of course the race. The women arrive wearing their wide brimmed hats decorated with flowers, feathers and bows, while men come dressed in a Southern fashion reminiscent of the 1920’s. The bar area is hopping with a lively crowd drinking mint juleps or enjoying some Kentucky bourbon. The Springfield Grille in Boardman will be throwing the same kind of party in their bar before the race this year, with the anticipation of beginning an annual tradition like their sister restaurant. To add to the event, both stores will be hosting a “Winner Circle” dinner in their private dining area featuring a four-course gourmet meal. Both Chef Adam and Chef Rob have designed menus highlighting southern cuisine with a pairing for each course including bourbon, wine and an after-dinner drink. I have always been an avid fan of the Derby. I love all the pomp and circumstance that is traditional with the race, so I look forward to hosting the event in Boardman as we anticipate the excitement from Churchill Downs.
Moving through the month, we welcome our area’s brightest students with our Top Ten dinners. Each store invites local high school administrators to extend an invitation to their students graduating in the top ten of their class. Each student is then permitted to invite their favorite teacher that influenced them along the way. As they dine with us, they share their future aspirations while enjoying a great meal followed by a piece of our homemade peanut butter pie. We send them off in a congratulatory manner with the hopes of seeing them return for life’s special celebrations in the future.
Next comes our second busiest day of the year, Mothers Day. All hands will be on deck early at the Iron Bridge Inn as they open their doors at 9 am. The fabulous buffet will feature morning breakfast fare with eggs Benedict, waffles, fresh fruit, sausage and bacon. There will also be fresh carved ham and prime rib, along with peel-and-eat shrimp and many side dishes to chose from. Save room for our homemade desserts where there will be a big table boasting an amazing variety of Chef Shelly’s pastries. The wait list begins quickly so if the line is too long, join us at Rachel’s in Mercer. We will be opening our doors an hour early at 10 am.
Each store will feature traditional dishes to honor our Mothers on their special day. Brunch menus will be handed out at the Hickory Bar and Grille, as well as the Springfield Grilles to complement our regular menus. Also, for the first time this year, Rachel’s Roadhouse in Kittanning, located just off Rt. 422 in the Franklin Village Plaza, will be accepting reservations for the holiday.
In the third week of May, the Hickory Bar and Grille is having a wine dinner on the 21st. General Manager Tamela Barnhart and her staff are doing a twist on their dinner offering “Pacific Northwest vs. California Wines.” Each course will be served with two glasses of wine. Guests will vote on their preference with the results being revealed at the end of the dinner. This sounds like my kind of fun!
So whether you’re looking for a fun party at the bar, a place to share your holiday with your Mother, or a place to enjoy a wine taste, we’ve got the calendar filled from beginning to end. Hope to see you somewhere in my travels.
Cheers.

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