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Cornelius News

Lyssikatos celebrates 5 years at Port City

Restaurateur Nick Lyssikatos

In just five years, Port City Club has become a fixture in the Lake Norman dining scene. Owned by Nick Lyssikatos, who also owns the Brickhouse Tavern in Davidson, the 13,500 square foot space is one of the largest restaurants in Mecklenburg County.

It was formerly the home of Midtown Sundries and Latitude 36, both of which closed. It’s size is overwhelming to most restaurateurs: It had sat empty and forlorn for a year.

“When I first saw the location, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it,” says Lyssikatos. “It’s an ideal location that provides indoor and outdoor space and we take full advantage of that 365 days a year.”

With the Brickhouse Tavern going strong in Davidson, Lyssikatos has a very successful lakefront eatery under his command.

“It was a great location and a good investment, but it was also a challenge,” Lyssikatos says. “The place was so big and had failed before, but it came along at the right time for me. I needed more space for patrons and events which I couldn’t accommodate at the much smaller Brickhouse Tavern, which was overflowing.”

His major goal was to establish a chef-driven restaurant and the creative, versatile concept seems to work. He has also hosted hundreds of private parties, many of them during the holidays. Businesses from Charlotte have found that lakeside Port City is a much better and more reasonable venue for their events than the well-known but more expensive eateries in the Queen City.

A busy Friday or Saturday can see 1,500 customers or more.

In the midst of his climb to success, the biggest obstacle has been staffing. It’s a constant challenge for the restaurant industry. “We advertise for help from places like Johnson and Wales, and provide 2-4 weeks of training. Some make it, some don’t. Keep in mind that Port City is three or four times larger than the normal 150-seat restaurant, and it takes a lot of people to run it: servers, bar and kitchen staff, among others.”

Pacing seating helps manage flow. “We don’t always fill all the tables at once in order to give the wait staff a chance to serve the customers they have and the kitchen a chance to cook items without being overwhelmed,” he said.

Lyssikatos lives in Waxhaw with his wife Nannette and their two grown twins: Elizabeth and Kostas. His favorite hobby is photography. In fact he does most of the food photography for his restaurants.

His work week is always seven days, splitting time between Brickhouse and Port City. If there were weeks with eight days, those who know him jokingly say he would work the eighth day too. But that’s always been Nick Lyssikatos’ key to success: Hard work.