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From Country Kitchen to Crooked Knife
Andy Kotecha, right, whose family owns the newly opened Crooked Knife Grill & Bar in the former Country Kitchen in Lathrop, is pictured with John Steffene, a bartender and bar staff trainer at Fat Cats in Modesto who also trained the bar employees at CK. They are shown standing behind the granite counter of the Crooked Knife’s new bar area. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

LATHROP – Something Crooked is happening in Lathrop, and it could mean good news to the city coffers.

The former Country Kitchen, a family dining destination next to Day’s Inn on North Harlan Road, is now The Crooked Grill & Bar.

Except for a bit of remodeling which included the addition of the latest state-of-the-art bar area with granite counters and flat-screen television sets, the new CK Grill & Bar will have the same amenities and ambience that loyal customers liked about the Country Kitchen. These include the spacious foyer with cathedral ceiling highlighted by a fireplace and seating for waiting guests, the antique and vintage décor theme throughout the restaurant, and separate dining areas for those who want to enjoy their meals in a quieter environment.

While the new CK is a bar and grill, “It’s a family bar and grill,” qualified Amita Kotecha whose family owns and manages the restaurant, along with three of Lathrop’s hotels – the Day’s Inn next door just south of Lathrop Road, the Comfort Inn across the street on North Harlan Road, and the Hampton Inn at the other end of Harlan Road at Louise Avenue.

The CK Bar & Grill still maintains its “family environment” like its predecessor, she said.

“So if people want to bring their kids, we do have kids’ meals as well as kids’ drinks and desserts. Everybody can come and join us. If people want to bring their friends, that’s fine. If they want to come and watch a game, that’s fine. If you want to bring your grandmother, that’s fine, too. It’s something for everybody. And we do have the dining room split up so if you don’t want to be near the TVs or the bar, you can sit on the other side and have a quieter environment,” added Kotecha.

The person who was mainly behind the restaurant’s inside renovations, the new menu lineup and bar drinks was Kotecha’s husband Andy who also managed the Country Kitchen.

It was Andy Kotecha who developed the drink menus, the happy hour menu plus the regular menu. He also designed the bar which features an “exotic leathered granite” counter.

“There’s nothing like this offered in Lathrop. If you want to offer something, you have to offer the best,” Amita Kotecha simply explained.

The bar features an extensive collection of bourbon, scotch and tequilas – “some of them will be sipping tequila” – said Andy Kotecha who has been at the restaurant “every day for the last two months” overseeing the renovation and all the changes involved in the transition from Country Kitchen to Crooked Knife Bar & Grill which officially opened on Friday, April 29.

The Kotechas proudly pointed out that throughout those two months of renovation and changes, they only had to close the establishment for the two days just before the grand opening last week. They simply closed off the sections of the restaurant that were being renovated, while the other sections continued to be open to customers.

The Crooked Knife legend

The new Lathrop bar and grill invites guests to “sit back and enjoy, for the crooked knife may be in your future.”

Amita Kotecha explained what that means. The crooked knife, which is the stuff of many legends, has been a symbol of luck, love and loss. At the bar and grill, it’s a sign of good luck. If you happen to get served with a crooked knife, Amita said, that means you will get a freebie at your next visit. You will be given a card to present for the free item, she said.

In addition to the regular dining offering, there will be happy hours at the bar offering drink and appetizer specials, plus a Sunday brunch from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. when you can separately order such special drinks as Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Bellinis and peach champagne.

CK Bar & Grill is open up to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Breakfast is served every day from 7 to 11 a.m.