The story of Eddie’s On Lake Norman is one of family, food, and love. Growing up in New York, our house was very similar to many other homes in the neighborhood. We always gathered around the kitchen table. The table of my youth – the setting for beautiful celebrations – featured many delicious dishes passed down for generations. The goal with all of our restaurants is to give you the feeling you are back at the kitchen table of your youth. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
When I wasn’t in our kitchen at home, I spent most of my life in restaurants because my father was in the restaurant business. I learned at a young age what it took to run a successful business. When my father retired, I took over his restaurant, Pizza Village, in Mount Kisco, New York. My goal was to turn Pizza Village into an upscale Italian restaurant. The humble beginning of Pizza Village became Eduardo’s and was exceptionally successful for 35 years.
The Beautiful Beginning
Ann-Margaret and I have been together for nearly 20 years, and I have loved every moment of our journey. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, she worked in the Atlantic City casinos for over nine years, then relocated to Rockland County, New York, and eventually, Westchester, New York. Funny enough, we met when she tagged along on a blind date I had with her girlfriend. With her girlfriend’s blessing, I got Ann-Margaret’s phone number…and the rest is history.
At that time, she was working for a title insurance company. However, once I got her around my kitchen table, we started dating, she couldn’t resist my cooking. Soon after that, she began assisting me in the restaurant business. Together, we purchased the Muscoot Tavern, hidden at the corner of Routes 100 and 35, tucked along the treeline next to the popular ice-cream stand, King Kone. This small, oddly shaped red house originally owned by the Burke family is notorious for its crooked walls, “Cheers”-like atmosphere, and mouth-watering, thin-crust pizza. Established at an unknown date, sometime before 1925, The Muscoot Tavern has changed hands many times over the years. What remains constant, however, is its legacy as a great local hangout.
Located in Somers, New York, when Ann-Margaret and I bought the place, we became the fifth generation of ownership. We kept the Muscoot name and added the word “Tavern.” It took us six weeks to renovate this 100-year-old historic building: we leveled the floor and the slanted walls to revitalize this once popular hangout, now open for lunch. Being a pizza man, well-trained by my father, I came up with the idea of bringing Mount Kisco water to the Muscoot to make the dough rise better and create even more delicious pizza. Ann-Margaret and I owned the restaurant for about two years, with Ann-Margaret running the daily operation before moving to North Carolina. Today, Bobby Epstein, who has been in the business for over 30 years, owns the Muscoot Tavern and has elevated it to its current status.
But our proudest achievement is our daughter, Lacy, a beautiful addition to our family and the best gift we could have ever received from our courtship. We remain joyful life partners.
The Move From New York to North Carolina
A dear friend moved to Mooresville, North Carolina, and whenever he came back to visit, he would insist that we come down to see him. He would say over and over again, “Oh, Eddie, you’ve got to come down to Mooresville. You’ve got to move down here.”
We eventually decided to take a look, and you know what? That friend was right! A week later, I shook hands over the restaurant deal because I tend to be a little spontaneous. The following week, Ann-Margaret went down to take a look at the restaurant we’d bought and immediately thought, “Whoa! It needs a lot of work.” However, shortly after we packed up and moved, she saw the same potential that I did.
The “What Did We Just Do?” Moment
When we opened Eddie’s On Lake Norman, our first thought was, “Did we bite off more than we could chew?” Our prior restaurant was small and held maybe 50 people, our new restaurant seats 350. It was a massive undertaking with a completely different menu.
The restaurant we purchased was Vinny’s, and during its heyday, that was THE place to be. Over the years, Vinny’s got a little stale and rundown because the owners wanted out. It was a challenge to prove to the people of North Carolina that we had the chops to provide something unique. They were anxious because Vinny’s was such a staple within the community.
Ann-Margaret is brilliant, and I knew she would do the restaurant justice, so I just left her to do her thing. It was a struggle for a year and a half. But in that year and a half, she almost doubled sales by rebranding, restructuring, revising the menu, examining the products brought in, and most importantly, listening to customer feedback.
The Winning Combination: Littlenecks and Live Entertainment
This will sound crazy, but we had to drive to New York every week to get the Long Island Littleneck Clams for the first year and a half. We’d drive up, go to the dock, and bring them back to North Carolina. If our friends were coming down from New York, we would ask them to load up their trunks with clams and bring them to us. Those are some great friends! At that time, we couldn’t get them any other way; thankfully, now we have a distribution center that does it for us.
We started to feature live entertainment every Wednesday through Saturday. When we discovered our patrons love the background music, we booked solo and acoustic acts. It’s a beautiful addition when you are sitting out on the deck, and the weather is gorgeous. We found that people would just hang out for hours and hours because it’s relaxing.
Ready to Join Us for Lunch or Dinner?
Eddie’s on Lake Norman is casual, and we want you to join us, especially if it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The deck will be waiting with littleneck clams and live music. If littleneck clams aren’t your thing, our menu also features lobster, king crab legs, snow crab legs, mussels, oysters, and a wide selection of fish.
Per the update to the North Carolina Executive Order, the restriction on the sale of late-night alcohol for on-site consumption has been lifted, and the mass gathering limit increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. A meeting or function held in a private room in our restaurant remains subject to the 50% capacity limit and other restrictions that apply to meeting spaces, conference centers, and reception venues. As of this writing, the order remains in effect until April 30, 2021, unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded.
Please keep in mind, we cannot take reservations at this time. If you have any questions about our safety protocols in response to COVID-19 or if you would like to learn more about our menu of offerings, give us a call at (704) 799-2090.
Thank you for sharing our story.
Eddie Lubic and Ann-Margaret Wagner