A special Homecoming at Gull Landing

August 8, 2023

A special Homecoming at Gull Landing

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

PENTWATER — This year’s Pentwater Homecoming celebration has special meaning for one of the village’s newest business operators. Nick Lascari grew up in Pentwater, graduating from Pentwater High School in 1999. When he was 16 years old, Nick began washing dishes at Gull Landing Restaurant. For the next 14 years he worked his way up the ranks, first as a cook and then as kitchen manager. He left Gull Landing in 2010 to take a job closer to his home in Scottville. Nick remained close to Gull Landing owner Diana Russell through the years and was given the opportunity this past spring to follow his dream and buy the restaurant. 

“I’ve always loved working in the food business,” Nick said. “I’ve had some great experiences over the years but have always wanted to return where I started.” 

In May, Nick and partner Sami Rinehart took over operations of the Pentwater institution. They recently sold their house in Scottville and moved into the apartment adjacent to the restaurant. 

“I grew up three blocks from here,” Nick said while sitting on the deck of Gull Landing. “My family moved to Pentwater when I was 3 years old, in 1983. This is home. I wanted to be fully committed to Pentwater.”

Gull Landing was started by Tom and Janice Farquhar, who, in the 1970s, purchased the B&K Rootbeer stand that was located on the site. The stand evolved into a restaurant through the years, well known for its weekly live jazz and contemporary music on the deck Sunday evenings in the summer. Tom and Janice’s daughter, Diana Russell eventually took over the business, which she operated through the end of the 2022 season. 

“Tom and Janice hired me and I have always felt like I was part of their family,” Nick said. “It’s truly an honor to now be part of this legacy.” 

Both Nick and Sami have had a variety of experiences in business and food service. 

Sami grew up in Arizona and, like Nick, learned food service when she was in high school. 

“I grew up really poor,” Sami said. “We didn’t have a traditional cafeteria in our high school, but rather the food service was operated by a vendor who offered different types of food like going to different restaurants. To help pay for my lunch, I began working for the vendor.”

The work led to other jobs in food service, including management roles. After her mother passed away, Sami moved to Michigan to be near her father’s family. 

“Restaurants are in my blood,” she said. “I’ve worked some other jobs over the years, took time away to raise my children, and now I am committed to Gull Landing.” 

Nick’s career has included managing the former PM Steamers Restaurant and, most recently, being head of food service for Trinity Health Shelby Hospital. 

“It was a little nerve racking to leave a good job,” Nick said. “I really enjoyed the hospital but I’ve always wanted to be back here at Gull Landing, in my hometown.” 

Nick said one of the keys to Gull Landing’s success has been its employees.

“Diana had a very loyal team and we were able to retain several of the previous employees,” Nick said. “I believe they, along with the food, are the main reason we have such a loyal customer base.”  

Speaking about the menu, Nick and Sami have made some subtle changes to Gull Landing’s menu while keeping many of the favorites. 

“We kept the top six items from the menu,” Nick said. “We’ve balanced that with adding some new items and plan on adding more after we get feedback from this season.” 

Sami said breakfast has been a popular option for customers.

“We get a lot of customers tell us they really appreciate that we are open for breakfast,” Sami said. “

Nick and Sami also said they hope to keep the restaurant open to the end of the year. “Our hope is to attract more of the local market, especially as we enter into the shoulder season and then winter,” Sami said. “We want Gull Landing to be Pentwater’s hometown restaurant.” 

Gull Landing is located at 438 S. Hancock St. in downtown Pentwater. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (breakfast, 9 a.m. to noon; lunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, 3 to 9 p.m.). 

Gull Landing features live music in the summer on Sundays from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and again on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. 

Call 231-869-3151 or click here for more information. 

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