While the lake may be quiet, the local nightlife scene is making lots of noise. From upscale clubs to dueling piano bars to casual hangouts where you can bring your dog, there’s plenty to keep Lake Norman revelers entertained. And the party shows no signs of slowing down in 2013. To help you plan your social calendar, we talked to the owners of some of Lake Norman’s hottest night spots about what makes them stand out, and what they have planned for the new year.
The Galway Hooker Restaurant and Irish Bar 17044 Kenton Drive, Cornelius www.galwayhookerpub.com Chris Boukedes, manager
What makes The Galway Hooker stand out from other lake bars? We are an authentic Irish pub and not a strip mall conversion. Every single piece of this pub was brought in from Ireland and put back together in Lake Norman. It is a small piece of history right in our back yard. We also have The Comedy Zone upstairs, and our Waterford Hall Banquet Room has a full bar, private bathrooms and can accommodate up to 200 people. The hall is perfect for corporate events, weddings and private parties.
Do you have anything new planned for 2013? We have some huge names coming to the Comedy Zone like Rob Schneider and Pauly Shore. Our annual St. Patrick’s Day party will be bigger than ever this year because it lands on a weekend. In the spring we’re going to roll out a new menu with more local food, healthy items and an expanded beer and wine list.
What do you think is missing from Lake Norman’s nightlife scene? I am not saying because I am planning it now.
What other Lake Norman clubs do you like to go to and why? I only go to mine. I’m too busy holding it together to enjoy other venues. But I love the Rusty Rudder and The Brickhouse Tavern is awesome and you can’t go wrong at Red Rocks.
What’s the best (or worst) pick-up line you’ve heard at your bar? This is by far the worst—and the scary thing is I hear it weekly: Hey girl, I make more than you can spend! Sad thing is, it usually works!
Piano Man 19701 Bethel Church Road, Cornelius http://pianomanlkn.com Rob Hutchinson, owner
What makes Piano Man stand out from other lake bars? Piano Man provides a completely different concept to what is currently available in the Lake Norman area as we have our dueling piano shows every Friday and Saturday. The show is very interactive and allows everyone to be a part of it. Each show is basically customized according to the vibe of the crowd. Do you have anything new planned for 2013? We’ll have our new VIP lounge with bottle service open as well as a full kitchen. What do you think is missing from Lake Norman’s nightlife scene? I think a great bachelorette party spot has been missing from the LKN nightlife scene for quite a while. We provide exactly that at Piano Man. We can accommodate groups of 2 to 100-plus and guarantee them a great time.
What other Lake Norman club do you like to go to and why? We love hanging out with our friends over at Lake Town Tavern. They have great food and a great staff. What’s the best (or worst) pick-up line you’ve heard at your bar? I have heard too many, and I can’t help but to laugh at most of them.
The Dirty Martini 17036 Kenton Drive, Suite 104, Cornelius www.lkdirtymartini.com Dr. Shawana Patterson, managing partners and co-owner
What makes The Dirty Martini stand out from other lake bars? The Dirty Martini is Lake Norman’s only true upscale club and lounge. Our atmosphere is a combination of Euro white decor and blue luminescent glow that gives off a sensual, energetic South Beach feel. We also serve up over 40-plus specialty martinis. The Dirty Martini is the perfect blend of party and chill. Do you have anything new planned for 2013? 2013 will bring a host of special guest appearances and music themes from jazz to electronic dance music. What do you think is missing from Lake Norman’s nightlife scene? With The Dirty Martini’s ultra-sexy makeover and revamped staff and management, Lake Norman is now complete with an upscale venue. What other Lake Norman clubs do you like to go to and why? I have frequented other bars and lounges and I can tell you that none offer the experience The Dirty Martini is serving up. What’s the best (or worst) pick-up line you’ve heard at your bar? Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be what they call fine print.
Rusty Rudder 20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius www.therustyrudder.net Erik Paul and Brian Johnson, owners
What makes the Rusty Rudder stand out from other lake bars? The Rudder has a “Cheers” quality about it, where locals and non-locals all seem to have fun and get along. We make a conscious effort to embrace the laidback lake lifestyle—flip-flops and board shorts are preferred, we have the tiki bar, extensive outdoor space and live music seven days a week. It creates an escape from the everyday doldrums. We want people to feel like they are on their favorite vacation when they are at The Rusty Rudder.
Do you have anything new planned for 2013? We look to focus on raising the food and beverage quality. Our head chef, Josh Arnold, has brought a new attitude and outlook to the kitchen, focusing on fresh ingredients that are prepared in-house. We are adding new menu items, expanding on the sandwiches and tacos with added entrées like shrimp and grits, a duck club sandwich and a pimento cheeseburger. We are looking to broaden what we offer at the bar, including more specialty drinks and craft beers like Dogfish, Duck-Rabbit and Highland.
What do you think is missing from Lake Norman’s nightlife scene? Nothing. Right now, there are places to fit every need you may have. We cover the live music and outdoor lake scene. If you crave an Irish bar, a martini bar or a dive bar, there is a place for you at Lake Norman.
What other Lake Norman clubs do you like to go to and why? We tend to go to the Galway Hooker or On the Roxx. We have a great relationship with the owners and staff of both of them and always feel welcome and comfy when we are there, and they tend to reciprocate too.
What’s the best (or worst) pick-up line you’ve heard at your bar? Too many to mention, and we don’t wanna mess with the lines that work! But for the most part, the later it gets, the worse they are.
Lucky Dog Bark & Brew 19607 Statesville Road, Cornelius www.luckydoglkn.com Randy and Kelly Waugh, owners
What makes Lucky Dog stand out from other lake bars? We are the only dog-friendly bar that also offers a dog park with both indoor and outdoor off-leash play areas that are great for any weather. We even have dog grooming, day care, boarding as well as a sports memorabilia boutique for dogs and people.
Do you have anything new planned for 2013? We do lots of charity events and will be hosting the Bark for Life kickoff party this January.
What do you think is missing from Lake Norman’s nightlife scene? More bars on the lake.
What other Lake Norman clubs do you like to go to and why? We like to go to Jacks Corner Tap—great food and great people.
What’s the best (or worst) pick-up line you’ve heard at your bar? That’s a nice dog. Does it have a phone number?