The Copper Rill for eating, drinking, and daydreaming
10.21.2013 - 10.21.2013 63 °F
Rill? What’s a rill? Maybe the new restaurant sign was a mistake? The Copper Rill? Do they mean “grill”? So I looked up the word.
Rill: a small stream or brook. Ah, discovered a new word. And found a new, favorite restaurant.
The Copper Rill restaurant sits in a pretty place. It’s across the street from the Snake River and the falls. Along the river is the greenbelt, a ribbon of verdant parkland that encircles the river in this high-desert town of Idaho Falls.
We discovered the Copper Rill shortly after they opened a few months ago. I had pushed my 88-year mother in her wheelchair on the greenbelt’s asphalt trail. And after cruisin’ for a while I was ready for lunch. “Let’s try that new place,” I said to my mother, pointing to its brick façade.
“Sounds like fun!” she said. She’s always enthusiastic about eating out.
“I hope they have beer,” I said.
Shandi Fujimoto owns and operates the Copper Rill with her partner Jud Wilcox, the chef. Shandi waits tables, keeps the books, manages the website, supervises the staff, and makes you feel like you’re a long-lost friend when she greets you.
On our third visit to the Copper Rill, Shandi came up to our table, “Hi, I’m Shandi. I’m sorry. I always try to meet our return customers. I don’t know how I missed you.”
Since then, we’ve talked with Shandi half a dozen times. My mother considers her a friend. Shandi takes the time to talk and listen.
In fact, all the servers have a easy, friendly vibe— they make you feel that you belong.
So how do you teach people how to make you feel like a good friend? How do you radiate warmth and humor without appearing to be rushed? It must be a tricky business, but Shandi seems to have figured it out.
We’ve dined at the Copper Rill about dozen times in two months. The mahi mahi fish tacos are just right. I order mine with a fresh salad and dressings prepared from scratch. The sandwiches are fresh and generous in size and are served with your choice soup, house salad, roasted steak fries or chilled Thai vermicelli. The stir-fry is also a winner. The lunch prices are moderate ranging from about 8 to 12 dollars.
On August afternoons we sat outside at one of the patio tables dressed up in a black tablecloth with an umbrella over our heads. We absorbed the brief but bright Idaho summer— temps in the 80’s with low humidity. As the weather cooled, we’ve moved inside and sit by a window that’s ideal for daydreaming.
On our last visit, I look out the window and see a young woman jogging. Her stride is light, and her silhouette seems to float in front of the falls, a 1500-foot-wide cataract. In an instant she slides out of view. Water cascades over a diversion dam and rushes through lava rock and boulders.
Warm words from our server, Liz, awaken me from my reverie. “Would you like another beer?” she asks, smiling.
“Ah, you’ve talked me into it,” I say.
She politely laughs and returns with an I.P.A.
I look out the window again. A few more sips. A few more moments to eat, drink, and daydream.