CORNELIUS – It’s been two years since the lakefront restaurant space on Harborside Drive has seen a single customer walk through its doors or pull up to the dock.
For 11 years, the location was home to Midtown Sundries and for a much shorter period in 2011 to Latitude 36.
Restaurateur Nick Lyssikatos is breathing new life to the location with the Port City Club, set to open in August.
The restaurant was named in honor of Lake Norman’s 50th anniversary, said Jan Black, marketing consultant for Port City Club.
“This new restaurant and meeting facility wants to recognize the history of the area,” Black said. “Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in the Carolinas and is known as the Inland Sea as it is the largest inner port in the Carolinas.”
Lyssikatos, owner of the Brickhouse Tavern in Davidson, said he is redesigning the restaurant to seat about 520 guests – 320 inside and 150 outside.
Private parties and gatherings will be a large focus for the 13,200-square-foot restaurant, which is 3,700 square feet larger than the Brickhouse Tavern. The space is tentatively laid out with rooms that could seat parties of up to 100 guests.
“A lot of restaurants were scared away from this place because it is way too big,” Lyssikatos said.
He’s had to turn away around 20 parties a month because of the Brickhouse Tavern’s inability to meet that need.
Port City Club will be open seven days a week and serve what Lyssikatos likened to Mediterranean fare that will be “lighter” than the menu served at the Brickhouse Tavern.
They’ll serve a variety of common seafood dishes, including oysters and king crab legs, and more unique seafood like snapper.
“The price points will be affordable,” Black said. “So that if you are a person that lives in this community and want to come here every single day, you’ll be able to afford that.”
Meal prices are expected to range from $5-15 for lunch and $5-25 for dinner.
Port City Club will also work with Concord-based S&D Coffee & Tea, to introduce a public a line of specially developed signature blends for Port City Club’s Coffee & European Style Pastry Bar within the restaurant.
“Combining a restaurant with a coffee bar is really unique,” Lyssikatos said. “It’s open and that’s why it’s like everybody’s club. You can come in here, sit on the couches, read a magazine or do some work on the laptop. We are creating a place where everyone wants to meet and be at.”
Lyssikatos said they anticipate being able to host about 25 boats. They are developing a website that will allow customers to place orders from their smartphone and pick it up at the dock.
Cornelius has only two lakefront locations that are zoned for commercial uses, said Town Planning Manager Wayne Herron: the Port City Club and the Rusty Rudder.
Lyssikatos announced July 1 that Port City Club would be open for business in four weeks.
“There’s certainly a lot of work to do on his part, and I’m glad that he’s willing to do it,” Herron said. “But there’s nothing major. Everything he was talking about to me will be very cosmetic.”
The Port City Club will bring between 65 and 70 jobs to Cornelius, Lyssikatos said.
Interested applicants can send their resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.