Players Bar & Grille

Published 12:26 pm Friday, November 15, 2013

Players Bar & Grille. Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN

Players Bar & Grille. Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN

For almost one whole year now, the owners of Players Bar & Grille — Robert and Tawn Montgomery and Elizabeth Ziebarth — and their “awesome staff” have been providing patrons with “upscale dining with a casual atmosphere,” along with a wide range of special events, on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in downtown St. Joseph

On Dec. 6, 2012, the restaurant and bar opened to a packed house. Since then, Players’ popularity has grown steadily.

“Things have been going really well. Reviews are just getting better and better,” Robert Montgomery said.

While this is Robert’s first venture as an owner” he brings 30 years of restaurant experience to Players, which he described as “a family affair.” That experience helped Robert, wife Tawn and her mother, Elizabeth, to develop a three-part goal for Players: To provide “really good food, with excellent service, in a fun, clean environment. If we can do those three things, we’re going to be great.”

Montgomery has kept business going strong — even as the tourism season has slowed down — by planning many special events and by offering weekly specials.

Montgomery, his partners and his staff want to offer patrons “something different and fun every night of the week.”

So, Players serves up authentic Mexican cuisine on Mexican Mondays, $2 domestic bottles of beer on Two-dollar Tuesdays, half-priced bottles of wine on Wine Wednesdays and specialty martinis on Thursdays.

Then, on Sundays, a sports bar atmosphere takes over. Montgomery promises that all of the NFL games are on, and a brunch special and Bloody Mary Bar are available until 3 p.m.

On Fridays and Saturdays, Montgomery “turns the specials over to the kitchen staff,” led by Head Chef Chris Hooley, who strives to make as many items in-house as possible. Soups, dressings, salsa, and even tortilla chips are prepared on-site.

In addition, Montgomery does his best to locally-source as many ingredients as he can.

“Our suppliers try to do everything as close to the bull’s-eye as possible,” he said. So, for example, Players’ perch is Great Lakes perch from Lake Erie.

If patrons prefer to eat fish from waters closer to home, Players makes that possible by participating in the Catch & Cook Program. This program enables folks to go fishing with a participating charter captain and then bring their catch into Players. Their chefs will then prepare it “however (the anglers) request it,” including blackened, pan-seared or grilled.

Montgomery calls this program “a big success,” noting that he recently served “a group of 15 or 16 guys. It was great seeing them chowing down on the fresh salmon that they had just caught!”

Readers can learn more about Catch & Cook, recent winner of the “Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration,” at

Players also offers something for patrons to look forward to every couple of weeks, “all through winter and into the spring.”

Upcoming events include the Hunter’s Widow Weekend, which is scheduled for the opening weekend of deer firearm season (Nov. 15, 16 and 17). There will be Ladies Only appetizer, entrée, dessert, and drink specials, and Players offers ladies the opportunity to “kick back and relax as our staff makes you and your girlfriends feel like queens.”

Later this month, Players will open its doors for another annual tradition: the Pre-Thanksgiving Party, on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Two-guest DJs, Matt Lignell and Ben Flowers, will be featured from 10 pm until 2 am. “Local legend” Johnny Ford will be the celebrity bartender, and at midnight, Montgomery promises that “Santa Claus himself will make an appearance.”

More information on Players, including daily hours, monthly specials, and standard menu items, can be found on their website at