It officially opened Tuesday, but plenty of diners had packed it for nearly a week. Jerry Simonetti hopes it’ll become a trend.
“I just always loved Lake Wylie,” said the co-owner and chef at Lily’s Bistro. “I just really like the area. The growth, obviously. Any time we go into an area we try to find a niche. Lake Wylie doesn’t have fine dining, and that’s what we did.”
Simonetti is partnering with Chris Earle, owner of Christopher’s Bar & Grill, on the new restaurant at 4547 Charlotte Highway. That spot has been home to several restaurants, mainly serving Asian fare. Lily’s will combine northern Italian and classical French cuisine. Local meats, vegetables and beverages will be featured.
“Everything is made from scratch,” Simonetti said.
After four months in construction mode, the owners will launch a website and Facebook page within the next week or so. Early returns haven’t needed the online exposure. A soft opening Nov. 22 and several dinner services since have filled the place.
Simonetti has been in the restaurant business 41 years and an executive chef for 35, with prior locations in New York and Florida. He has had three restaurants in North Carolina, including the most recent Lily’s Italian Bistro in Gastonia, N.C. Regulars from that site helped open Lily’s in Lake Wylie during its first week.
Earle knows Lake Wylie, and the bar side of the business. Simonetti is the food guy. Both want to bring local flavors. Lily’s will serve produce and herbs from nearby Tega Hills Farm and drinks from Full Spectrum Brewery, among others. Simonetti expects his salmon to be popular, along with a New York strip served with and lobster and spinach potatoes “that’s pretty incredible.”
Lily’s shares a building with two new businesses that opened in October.
Lana Blankenship runs The Coastal Cottage featuring refinished furniture, paint-on-wood classes or parties, and home decor.
Mary Goforth has The Clover Patch offering vinyl transferring and gifts, jewelry and workshops. Both businesses create custom pieces.
“If we don’t have it, we can make it,” Blankenship said.
“And if we don’t know how,” Goforth added, “we’ll figure it out.”
After the new year, the pair plans to expand one of their businesses into an adjacent space.
“We’ve outgrown it already, the two of us,” Goforth said.
The building housing the new restaurant and craft shops faces the main highway, an entrance point into Plantation Square and other businesses, including a yoga studio, haircuts for men, piano school and longtime floral shop. Some business owners are discussing special events or promotions to bring in new customers, figuring the businesses can work together to help one another.
“Hopefully it helps everybody,” Blankenship said.
For more on The Coastal Cottage, visit The Coastal Cottage-DIY on Facebook. For more on The Clover Patch, visit thecloverpatch.com or The Clover Patch, Clover SC on Facebook.