Lake Norman is home to a new/old favorite 

Cliff Bingham ran the popular Exit 36 Grill and Billiards from 2002 to 2009. Then he sold it and went into retirement. It became the White Owl Tavern, which lasted about 18 months. 

Turner found out the restaurant had closed and answered the siren call to get back in the business, as he still owned some of the property and equipment. In May 2012, the space was reborn as Grilles Sports Cafe.

The restaurant directly faces Lake Norman with a perfect view and available boat slips. 

Customers who came to either Exit 36 or the White Owl will not recognize the space, since it received a complete and total facelift. 

There is a new brick floor with a gorgeous intricate ceiling overhead. The internal lights are dim due to the natural light that fills the restaurant. The windows give the impression that water is surrounding the entire building.

There is a side patio that is covered overhead with open sides and of course, a view of the water, with cornhole boards. Another patio directly faces the water with comfortable chairs, roomy tables and large cherry red umbrellas. A television view is available from every table.  

Customers will notice that Grilles is more upscale than the prior restaurants that occupied the space. 

“We have excellent kitchen capabilities and make all of our food fresh,” Bingham said. 

The menu offers pizza, wings and other traditional bar food. The kids menu has chicken strips, grilled cheese and other favorite fare. 

But there are some new items peppering the menu, as well. The ribeye is hand-cut for the ultimate fresh taste. All the meat is smoked in-house.  For summer, Chef Brantley Turner and Bingham are lightening up the menu with more fish and more wraps. 

The two men are also having some fun with the specials, offering a fresh catch of the day and a pasta of the day. 

“Yeah, we now have a chef,” Bingham said. “We are more of a restaurant that also has a bar instead of the other way around.” 

Speaking of the bar, it is vast with 24 draft beers plus a full bar.

There are many things to keep the bar customers occupied: five pool tables, a Golden Tee machine, Silver Strike Bowling, dart boards and shuffleboard. It is the perfect place to take a break from the sun right off the boat. 

It also hosts World Tavern Poker and Pick ‘Em games at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays with a chance to win one of 41 seats in the World Series of Poker. They are also looking at starting some pool tournaments, as well.  

“Sports bars are often dark and dank,” said Bingham.  “But ours has this light, airy feel because you are looking right at the water!”

Customers love to sit and watch that water while enjoying the food. 

Twins Jenny and Janie Weaver, of Denver, were dining on the warm patio enjoying the view. 

“I just love sitting out here,” sighed Janie Weaver.  “I try to get here about every two weeks.  It is just so relaxing and the food is so good.”

With the new, fresh menu and the excellent bar scene, this restaurant might be your new favorite place on the lake.

167 Pinnacle Lane, Mooresville