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Updated May 19 @ 2:19PM
 

Norman’s Landing announces closing in June

Long-time restaurateur raised $2.3M for charities

KATHLEEN STURGEON/Herald
Bill Norman fondly remembers the memories he’s had at Norman’s Landing over the past 22 years.
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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After being one of the first restaurants to call Forsyth County home right before its population exploded, Norman’s Landing will soon be shutting its doors and selling the property.

Owner Bill Norman announced March 13 that after 22 years the longstanding seafood restaurant at 365 Peachtree Parkway will be closing June 18.

However, debt and maintenance issues are driving him to shutter the doors.

“It would take $400,000 to get this restaurant back in the right direction,” Norman said. “I’m talking about new floors and tile. I can’t take another payment book. I owe friends, family, banks and everybody. I have to get them off me so I can sleep at night.”

He said he has “signed papers” for the property and it’s a great deal, but he wouldn’t say to who, for what and how much.

“This place has always been on fire and will continue,” Norman said. “It’s been a great ride. I was planning on leaving it open another 3-4 years, but I’ll be 64-years-old this year. The restaurant business is not an easy business. That’s why there’s a 90 percent failure rate.”

With the motto, “Let Us Spoil You,” Norman and his staff have loyally served over 3 million customers.

“I need to go forward,” Norman said. “I probably won’t call this my retirement as I’ll probably open up a barbecue dump in six months or a year. There just ain’t no telling. I love spoiling people.”

Now the entrepreneur said he’s on an emotional rollercoaster regarding the bittersweet closing.

“I don’t know what to feel,” Norman said. “It’s going to be like this for 100 days.”

Norman’s restaurant career started nearly 50 years ago when he helped found Longhorn Steakhouse. He eventually set out to fulfill his dream of building a restaurant on Lake Lanier and opened Norman’s Landing in 1995. The building, made from wood Norman collected, will probably be relocated rather than torn down.

“My parents had a house at Lake Lanier so we drove by this property all the time,” Norman said. “I thought, since this is at the end of Peachtree and Ga. 400, it’ll be a great location. People told me I was crazy and this was out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve heard that my whole life. But I said we’re building it, we’re going to do it for the community.”

Norman initially thought the restaurant would maybe take in $15,000 a month. Once word got out, nearly $50,000 a week was pouring in. Years later, the recession made the restaurant take a deep hit. But through the ups and downs, he still stayed true to his staff.

“I could not get rid of any employees,” he said. “I have employees who’ve been with me for 25-30 years and one who’s been with me for over 40 years. I couldn’t bundle it up and kick them out to the street.”

And when he had to tell some 60 employees the news of the closing last week, he said it was one of the worst days of his life.

“I couldn’t even read my notes I was crying so much,” Norman said. “There are a bunch of outstanding employees. They will get a job wherever they want a job.”

Along with providing his menu comprised of mostly seafood, he has made a name in the community as someone who loves to give back.

“The reason I built this restaurant is to have the best food in Forsyth County and to raise money in this community,” Norman said. “I left Longhorn and had a bunch of money and thought, ‘I’ll do something for the community.’ We will end up raising $2.3 million for this community in 22 years. Hopefully we’ve been the best restaurant in Forsyth County in 22 years. That was the goal. We take pride in what we do.”

He doesn’t plan to leave without a final ping-pong tournament and charity day on the restaurant’s last day open. But after that, Norman can’t tell you what he’ll be doing come June 19.

“Everybody knows I’m working in this restaurant Monday through Friday and I’m on the phone with the restaurant Saturday and Sunday,” Norman said. “So the restaurant business never stops. It’s always going. We close twice a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, needed or not. Out of the restaurants I’ve been with, this is my favorite I’ve worked at. The restaurant has never been run better than it is right now. No matter how you slice it.”

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