JB Hooks, perched high atop the lakefront cliffs at the 16.5 Mile Marker, is where you eat dinner when you want a breathtaking view. The restaurant’s southwest-facing windows offer a one-of-a-kind vista of nearly 14-mile stretch of Lake of the Ozarks: everyone wants a seat along the wall of windows. The restaurant’s new 7,000-square-foot addition capitalized on that panoramic view, with floor-to-ceiling windows and abundant seating (no-smoking) in the front of the house, and expanded facilities to handle the incredible growth in customers.
Owner Bruce Elliott designed the new dinner-only addition they have dubbed “The West Wing.” Elliott and business partner John Lafata have owned JB Hooks since 1995.
They took ownership of the Lake Ozark restaurant in February of that year, and only three months later, a fire destroyed most of the building. They quickly rebuilt from what was essentially a total loss, and reopened in September of the same year. For 24 years since then, the restaurant has been a local favorite: perfect for a business lunch, a generous happy hour, and an ideal spot for dinner with friends or a loved one. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re ordering, but Event Coordinator Gina Garriott says the restaurant’s signature dish is the Steak & Lobster: a certified angus beef 6 oz filet paired with a one-pound Canadian lobster tail. Served with a soup or salad and choice of a side, it’s a meal guaranteed to satisfy right down to the last bite.
In the summers, Hooks fills to capacity, as vacationers line up for the unparalleled fare, with locals either joining in the fun or waiting ’til the week after Labor Day, when wait times ebb. The busyness was the sign Elliott and Lafata were doing something right—there are no guarantees of success in the restaurant business, doubly so at Lake of the Ozarks—so in July of 2018, construction on The West Wing began.
As the community watched the process through the course of a year—the owners focused on getting it done right, rather than getting it done fast—everyone longed for a peek at the final product. And in late-July of this year, the doors opened.
The new, non-smoking bar and dining room feature exposed architectural beams and cathedral ceilings, driftwood accents and beautiful colors in muted greys. While waiting for dinner reservations, customers can lounge in a new gathering area set up for smaller parties, with low, plush cushioned seating or high-back chairs along the bar all outfitted by custom designer John Elliott Interiors. “We are working towards adding new menu items this year,” Garriott said; watch for those to be unveiled soon.
The floor-to-ceiling windows in The West Wing offer a 180-degree view of the Lake.
The expansion also doubled the kitchens with new, state-of-the-art equipment and appliances. The goal is to create a flowing atmosphere of ease, style and comfort for our guest and staff.
"The West Wing opens so many doors for us and allows our staff to expand the fine dining experience to our guests. We look forward to adding new menu items this year as well as just enjoying the expansion and what it is has to offer not only for our guests but staff as well."
“The West Wing” opens at 4 p.m. daily for cocktails in the lounge and bar area. Dinner begins nightly at 5 p.m. Run, don’t walk, to get a table. And once you’re there, relax and enjoy dinner with an unprecedented view.