For any newcomer to North Fulton/South Forsyth, it may be hard to imagine the bustling area filled with subdivisions and shopping centers was considered a rural destination, off the beaten path, just a few decades ago.
In fact, when Bill Norman told friends he was opening a new restaurant in 1995 on a parcel of land at exit 13 in Forsyth County, they thought he was crazy. At the time, Ga. 400 was a lightly traveled highway which essentially turned rural north of Haynes Bridge Road.
But Norman had been visiting the area from his native Atlanta for years, enjoying the peace and quiet of Lake Lanier. He had a vision that the suburban creep would eventually reach Forsyth. And it did ... becoming one of the fastest growing counties in the country during the 2000s.
Norman’s Landing opened in July of 1995 offering an upscale menu heavy on seafood and steaks in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant quickly drew customers who had few other options for fine dining in the immediate vicinity.
“At the time there were no other restaurants around,” said Norman. “Now the entire road has filled in with two large retail ventures around us, including multiple other restaurants.”
The menu still adheres to its original focus, offering fresh grouper, shrimp, fresh shucked oysters, the “best Reuben in town,” and weekly events including Sunday brunch and Thursday prime rib.
Norman noted a few of the menu items have been on the menu since Norman’s Landing opened, and have a special place for many diners.
“Customers would revolt if we ever removed the Reuben, grouper, or cobbler,” Norman laughed. “The Reuben and cobbler have been on the menu since day one and are definitely customer favorites.”
Although more than 60 other restaurants have opened in close vicinity to Norman’s Landing over the past 20 years, Norman said their customer base remains loyal.
“People may try other restaurants, [but they] come back to ours because of the quality of food and service,” Norman said.
Menu items are all favorites that Norman has either eaten, served or created over his more than 40 years in the restaurant business.
“Many of our vegetables of the day come from family recipes, and we are also adding new menu items and exciting new specials with the help of a great chef who has a passion for excellent food,” Norman said.
Norman’s Landing was the final stop on a long career in the restaurant business for Bill Norman. He started as a 14-year-old, working at a Marriott hotel in Atlanta. He then moved on to Victoria Station for the next decade, before leaving to become one of the founders of the Longhorn Steakhouse group.
“After 12 years with Longhorn, I decided I wanted to open my own restaurant and now [nearly 22] years later I’m still at Norman’s,” he said.
While providing the dining customer with an exceptional experience, Norman also gives back to the community. Norman’s Landing has raised more than $2 million for charity since opening, primarily through its twice-annual ping pong tournament.
Proceeds are given to the charity of the quarter, with much of the money going to support education initiatives and pre-kindergarten programs.
While change is happening all around it, Norman’s Landing retains its original feel and decor, remaining virtually the same as it when it opened in 1995.
“The lack of change is intentional,” Norman said. “We want people to feel warm and comfortable in our building. With over a thousand years of [combined] restaurant experience under one roof we strive to provide a wonderful dining experience for everyone who enters the building.” ■