Pilot Magazine August-September 2007

Good Food, Casual Mood @ The Landing

BY JOYCE DEATON

tonyIn 1993, Tony Genaro had an idea. He wanted to open a comfortable restaurant on Lake Norman with a family atmosphere and reasonable prices. Nothing fancy – the kind of place you could go in your bathing suit.

A native of Chicago, Genaro had worked there in management for Flying Tigers air cargo carriers. He brought his wife and children to the Charlotte area when he was transferred, then found himself displaced when Federal Express bought his company. Already the family had been operating a restaurant in Mt. Holly and a small bar near the airport, called The Landing because it was at the end of a runway. Faced with a new start, Genaro asked his elder son if he wanted to join the new venture. “Little Tony” said yes, and the family bought the restaurant with its boat dock and adjoining old-fashioned motel.

Today, The Landing restaurant and boat dock and Lake Norman Motel are beloved icons of Sherrills Ford, and the entire Genaro clan works in the enterprise. Little Tony runs the business end of the operation and helps out wherever he’s needed. His mother Halina and sister-in-law Anesia take care of the motel rooms. His wife Kelli tends bar and waits tables, his brother John Paul runs the kitchen, and his sister Christina manages the wait staff. After the senior Genaro died in 2002, says Little Tony, “We decided we’d stay together and keep Dad’s dream alive.” All the Genaro’s work long hours. They like to do as much of the work as they can themselves, and they like to buy food and supplies from local mom-and-pop operations.

john_and_christinaWith its grass-roofed bar, palm trees and rustic lake atmosphere, The Landing invites leisurely, relaxed dining. A game room in the back keeps the kids happy, and once in awhile there’s a little band. The family has just obtained an ABC license, so there will soon be mixed drinks. But mostly there is food. People come from miles around for The Landing’s special ribs (Tony Sr.’s recipe) and Buffalo wings. The extensive menu also includes hot and cold subs, steaks, seafood, Mama Halina’s homemade pizza, Grandmother Millie’s homemade meatballs with family-recipe Italian sauces for pasta, burgers, chicken, and fish sandwiches – almost anything you could think of on a great day at the lake.

The Landing is in a quiet cove just off the channel near mile marker 13. Turn toward The Boat Rack, and when you’re almost there, turn left and go under the slanting bridge. Pull into one of The Landing’s 20 open slips. If these are full, anchor out a ways and the Genaro’s will send out the “Tiki Boat” water taxi. From the landside, come to 4491 Slanting Bridge Rd. in Sherrills Ford.

There’s also a boat ramp, and the 13-room motel (the only one on the lake) welcomes folks trailering their boats for the week or the weekend. At $50 a day for a roadside or $55 for a waterside room, the motel’s simple but sparkling rooms will remind you of yesteryear. Says Little Tony: “Our whole point is to provide a nice place where people can come and enjoy themselves and not be broke when they leave.”

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