CORNELIUS – Six months ago, Thomas Shiavone saw great promise in the restaurant space formerly occupied by Pelicans Patio.

He gutted the place and made it into a chic expanse that feels cozy but not crowded. The L-shaped interior is outfitted in shades of black and red with deep wood touches. High-backed chairs flow around the bar. Tables are offset to the side. The room naturally flows to an enormous outdoor patio complete with three fireplaces, a bar and ample seating.

Shiavone did this with his clientele in mind, so people could comfortably eat inside or out depending on their mood or the weather.

Shiavone grew up in New Jersey and has owned restaurants in Florida and New Jersey. Many of his friends live in the Lake Norman area, and he loved the lifestyle and weather here. So when he found the space for sale, he jumped on it.

He is in the midst of moving down to the Cornelius area permanently. He has been a chef for many years at various restaurants. He put the menu together based on what he did not see offered in the area.

The menu at Fireside is full of eclectic American fare such as sandwiches, salads, steaks and paninis. The country turkey panini is layered with Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, Gouda cheese and a house-made raspberry Dijon mayonnaise. The knife and fork Caesar salad is piled high with crisp romaine, a homemade Caesar dressing and a garlic baguette to give it some height. The steaks are Certified Angus Beef and all the hamburger meat is ground in-house.

Shiavone would recommend the Fireside stuffed burger, with smoked Gouda cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. All the croutons, sauces and soups are homemade.   

Rachel Snedaker was eating at the restaurant with a local friend.

“This is my first time here,” she said. “But when I’m in town, I’ll come back. The food is excellent and the environment is wonderful!” 

The new restaurant already has regulars who love the food and casual comfortable atmosphere, according to Shiavone.

“We take pride in all our food,” he said. “We love our patrons and have formed a great regular following!”

Fireside is named for the three large fireplaces on the patio. When Shiavone began renovating the space, there was just one fireplace. He added two more to create an amazing outdoor eating area.

It is the perfect place to eat some good food or imbibe in a specialty cocktail such as a “gin and ginger,” which is made with Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, ginger liquor, club soda and candied ginger. Or the “More than Mojito” made with Barcardi Limon rum, melon liquor, banana rum, Roses’s lime juice and muddled fresh mint.

There is a long list of custom drinks that combine high-end liquors with unexpected twists to create unique and fun libations to enjoy by the fire.

The restaurant offers live music on the patio on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. This is another way for patrons to enjoy the upscale, yet comfortable outdoor seating. There are also specials offered in addition to the menu using fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Shiavone is proud of the look, feel and food at his restaurant. It has already become a local favorite and is drawing customers from the surrounding areas, as well.

It’s a place to enjoy excellent food, custom cocktails and an amazing atmosphere.

Fireside Bar & Grill, 19930 W. Catawba Avenue, Suite 130, 704-892-5001.