Conversations about Lake Norman nightlife sometimes hint at a divide between those who party on the lake and those who hop into their cars for a night on the town. Boat owners and their friends know some haunts easily seen from the water but not so visible by land. River City Grille in Mooresville is an example. By land, you access River City Grille from Pinnacle Lane, a road from Highway 150 that looks like it takes you to a neighborhood and a marina. It does, but look closer. See the inconspicuous building on the left with a nondescript entry door? Don’t be fooled or suspicious. This establishment that opened in 2009 is the perfect lakeside party spot for family and friends that’s just waiting for landlubbers to discover. From the lake, River City’s façade is that of a small bar with intimate patio seating. Again it’s deceiving, because the two-story building is huge. Whether you come by lake or land, great bands, fun dancing and delicious food wait inside. “We’re the big orange cooler by the lake,” laughs general manager Cissy Roberts. And that’s when it dawns on you to take a look around and notice the bright orange walls and their whimsical decorations. River City is a place for couples, families and friends to hang out. “There are people who visit us every week,” says Roberts. The crowd demographics embrace people of all ages, but especially the 30 to 50-year-olds. “Everyone’s relaxed and has a good time.” The lakeside entrance welcomes you onto a great outdoor seating area with a fantastic view of the water. Attention boaters: River City has 10 boat slips and tie-up spots for two additional vessels. They offer full-service gas. If you don’t want to stay, but have heard the rave reviews about the homemade wings and other food, call ahead for takeout food and drink orders. Dock attendants will bring your order right to you. But it’s worth your time to make River City an evening destination. The two-story setup makes it conducive for multiple entertainment offerings to occur simultaneously. Perhaps half of your party wants to audition their karaoke talents while the others want to leave the singing to the professionals. At River City both options are possible. They feature karaoke every Wednesday and Friday at the downstairs bar, and showcase the region’s hottest bands on the second floor every Friday and Saturday. Take your pick from bands that play blues, rock, Top 40, jazz and country. The second floor has some decorative displays to remind you this is a lakeside destination. For starters, the bands perform on a stage created from an actual pontoon. Patrons grab drinks at the huge indoor tiki bar. Those opting not to join others on the dance floor can enjoy the music while playing pool or taking in the view of the lake through wall-to-wall windows. The downstairs bar highlights a parquet floor, perfect for the karaoke performers or the DJs who spin tunes on Thursdays and Saturdays. Thursday night DJs specialize in shag music. “I installed this floor for my shag dancers,” explains Roberts. “I love them! They’re here every week and they have a blast.” If the music and dancing options don’t entice you, the nightly drink and food specials will. Don’t let a cancelled babysitter stop you from eating out on Mondays, when kids eat free and can play in the huge outdoor sandbox while you enjoy drinks by the lake. If you own a motorcycle, venture to River City on your hog next Friday: Bikers avoid band cover charges every Friday night. And after all is said and done, what does the manager believe is the best kept secret about River City Grille? “We have the best breakfast on the lake!” says Roberts. The doors open every Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. to serve up homemade biscuits, eggs and gravy. Although open year-round (limited days during the winter months, so check the website), River City is ideal for warm weather fun. Take the opportunity to visit during September, the month where summer makes its last gasp for attention. You’ll be glad you did. Want to go? River City Grille155 Pinnacle Lane, Mooresville704-660-9797, www.biorgangecooler.com, www.facebook.com/BigOrangeCooler Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.