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Cooper’s Coop is back open

After a death, permitting struggles and a 14-month hiatus, the coop is open for business.

One of Lake Wylie’s oldest watering holes, Steve Cooper’s Coop re-opened in December. Original proprietor Gary “Steve” Cooper isn’t there anymore, but not much else has changed.

“Steve was my stepdad,” said Chris Eubanks, who is running the business owned by his mother, Brenda Cooper. “Steve raised me since I was 2 years old.”

The restaurant and bar still is at 1150 Highway 274, just off the state line in South Carolina. They still plan to specialize in pizza and chicken wings. Some vendors or food orders changed in the time off, but the menu still should have a familiar flavor.

Thomas Gantt, who moved to the area in sixth grade, has known Eubanks for 15 years and was a regular for Steve Cooper, also known as “Coop.” Gantt plans on remaining a regular.

“Coop was like a father to me,” he said. “He was like a father to anybody who walked in here.”

At 32, Gantt may not have check his ID at the bar, but he may have to check a calendar from time to time. With Cooper’s Coop re-opening and the River Rat now operating under it’s old name, along with T-Bones on the Lake still going strong, Lake Wylie is regaining a retro feel, he said.

“We’re still missing the Knot Hole and Roadhouse,” Gantt said.

Cooper’s Coop opened in 1979, just months after River Rat.

“It’s a family tradition, this place,” said Scott McFarland, another regular.

Family is the reason many customers think Cooper’s Coop closed, but that’s not the case, Eubanks said.

“A lot of people think we closed when (Steve Cooper) died,” he said. “But we wanted to stay open.”

A couple months after Cooper’s death, Eubanks found out the business needed an engineered well due to its allowed occupancy. Permits took months.

“They drilled the well in two days,” Eubanks said.

Liquor and other licenses had to be transferred following Cooper’s death, too. Once Eubanks was ready, he had to contact vendors again. Then spruce the place up, and let customers know their plans.

“We didn’t want to close,” he said. “We kept the power running. We kept the boxes on.”

It took close to $20,000 to reopen, and as much for the new well. But people are coming.

“Facebook,” Eubanks said. “Word of mouth. They hit us the first night we were open. It was packed.”