genaro familyThe Lake Norman Motel, Landing Restaurant and Marina was bought by the Genaro family in 1993, and at that time, the restaurant was closed and the motel was barely operational.

Built in the 1970’s, upgrades were necessary, but had to be put on hold just to get through the 3 pages of violations from the county that had to be addressed. What a salesperson Tony Genaro was to convince his wife Halina to get on board with his newest venture. As always, his persistence won her over.

As with any family business, the couple’s 3 children were recruited cooking, cleaning and remodeling. Since the two youngest children, Christina and John-Paul, were still in school, Tony Jr. (L.T.) worked during the day and bartended at night. Big Tony and our live-in maintenance man, Joe Scott, were getting the restaurant up and running during the day, and held down the bar “crowd” (about 4 – 10 people total per night) serving frozen french fries, hamburgers and hot dogs out of a microwave at the end of the bar! Many nights, L.T. and Joe fell asleep at the bar or sitting up on a beer cooler.

Finally, the restaurant opened for business and we hired a day shift barmaid, Jeannie Neufer, and our first waitress, Lisa Hall. Business was so slow those early days that he nicknamed Jeannie “The Maytag Lady.” But slowly, the business started to pick up, and the locals kept us afloat (a lake joke!). Over the years, our menu has changed to suit our customer’s needs and a family favorite, Big Tony’s “Fall Off The Bone” Baby Back Ribs became our anchor (another lake joke!)

Now, the business hums along and with its growth, the Genaro clan grew as well. L.T. married Kelli Hudson of Charlotte in 2004. They have 2 precious daughters, Lainey, 11, and Leela, 7, and Hudson, 3. L.T. manages the entire business, trying to pinch a penny when he can, and keeping Kelli and Anesia from spending it!

John-Paul married Anesia Meyer of Lake Norman in January 2008. They were so considerate to plan their marriage out of the summer season! They have a 13 year old son, Little John, who is sure to follow, or “fall,” in his father’s foot steps! Anesia works in the office, and is truly the force that keeps all in check. John has been dubbed “the kitchen maestro” in a recent newspaper article. He orchestrates the kitchen rush with ease, and entertains us with bursts of song for all our tastes – from Sinatra, Dino, and some Tom Jones for his mother Halina, to rap and rock for the kitchen staff. We all are grateful when he sings, for the alternative of this Italian family are their infamous battles. They often are precipitated between the front of the house and the kitchen.

Christina is usually the bearer of the news. Being a bar maid, waitress, housekeeper and cook, she is the mediator between guests, customers and the back of the house. She is truly the middle child, ever the peace maker. She has two children, Cecilia, 18, and Jadon, 14.

Halina, now the matriarch of the family, has taken over the duties that were reserved for her late husband, Big Tony and late mother-in-law, Millie. Tony was in charge of making the homemade Italian sausage, and Millie, the meatballs. They would be proud, I’m sure. You can also find her buzzing around the place cleaning rooms, planting flowers and cooking, always with a grandchild by her side.