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On Lake George’s Waterfront, a Torch is Passed

On Lake George’s Waterfront, a Torch is Passed July 12, 2023
Photo of eKatie and Will Carson on the deck of The Lighthouse Grill.
Katie and Will Carson on the deck of The Lighthouse Grill.

When Katie Carson worked for her grandparents and her father, the founders and second-generation owner, respectively, of Lake George’s Shoreline businesses, she often wondered what she would do if she were in charge. If she had imagined something amazing, then, judging by all appearances, she’s achieved her goal.

Shoreline restaurant, reborn as Lighthouse Grill, now takes maximum advantage of its location on the lakefront and its views across and down Lake George.

The remodeled exteriors and interior design were Katie’s own, said her husband and business partner Will Carson.

“We really wanted to open things up,” said Will. “Anyone sitting at the bar will have an amazing view of the lake and the surrounding mountains, but when the awning doors are closed, from a comfortable interior.”

The choices in colors, furnishings and finishes reflect the waterfront environment, said Katie, a Queensbury native and graduate of Siena College. 

In 2022, the Carsons purchased Shoreline from Katie’s father, Dennis Quirk, in a transaction that included the Shoreline restaurant, the Horicon and Adirondac cruise boats, a boat rental business and the Woodbine motel on the back street.

The sale of Will’s family business, Leroy Holding Truck Lease & Service, made it possible to complete the transaction sooner rather than later.

The transition from Shoreline restaurant and cruises to Lighthouse Grill and Waterfront Cruises was celebrated on June 30 with a grand opening party at the restaurant on Kurosaka Lane.

“It’s always been a family business, so naturally, it made sense for the next generation to take over,” said Katie. “We hope that our customers will see that it’s still a family business.”

Lighthouse Grill is designed to cater to a variety of tastes and functions, from couples out for dinner and boaters seeking a light lunch to families celebrating weddings and anniversaries. The interior spaces have been redesigned to accommodate several types of activities, often at the same time.

For the chef’s position, the Carsons interviewed a number of experienced veterans but ultimately chose someone recommended by one of the boat captains.

“He really seemed suited tour team-oriented approach,” said Will Carson. “At the end of the day, Katie and I are the decision makers, but we appreciate the value of collaboration. And the public’s response to what comes from the kitchen thus far has been very positive.”

The company’s Sacarano Brothers-built Horicon and Shoreline cruise boats will continue to operate from the lakefront, but with some changes to the schedules and offerings.

“We’re maintaining the traditions, but with some experimentation to see if there are other things the public might like. Some things might work, others might not,” said Katie Carson.

Among the innovations: morning coffee cruises, Narrows cruises and fine dining cruises.

The boat rental business is also being updated, with the addition of six high-end pontoon boats.

 The third piece of the business, the Woodbine motel, will be transformed into, “The Bungalows,” a modern, family-friendly short-term rental property within walking distance of the lake.
“We have rentals in the Saratoga Lake area that we’ve had some success in remodeling and elevating the quality of, so we hoping to bring that approach to this property,” said Will Carson.

The reaction from the community to the legacy business’ makeover has been “very positive,” said Katie.

“I don’t think there’s been a time when I’m interacting with customers that someone hasn’t mentioned how wonderful the changes are and how much the area has needed something like this,” said Katie.

“We value the Quirk family’s traditions and the foundations upon which the business was built, and our rebranding just updates the guest experience,” said Will.

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