Four people who have worked at The Port in previous years now have expanded management roles. Near The Port bar, left to right, are Kayla Valentine, general manager; Amanda Rambo, bar manager; Amanda Hemann, front-of-house manager; and Tory Thompson, head chef. 

Key staff positions were filled with people who have worked at The Port and now have expanded roles. 

By Susan Thompson | Lake Panorama Times

The Port restaurant on the eastern edge of Lake Panorama’s main basin has a long history. In 1972, some lake property owners began discussions about a restaurant and lounge. A company was formed, and construction began in 1975. The restaurant opened in 1976 but closed at the end of the season because of steep losses.

David Garst took over the operation. Paul and Linda Wendl purchased The Port from Garst in 1982 and operated it for 12 years before selling it in 1994. The restaurant moved through several hands over the next 10 years before being purchased in 2004 by Dr. Mark Menadue.

The tiki bar at The Port is quiet now, but plans are to have it open by Memorial Day weekend.

In late 2023, it was announced The Port would be closing following a New Year’s Eve party Dec. 31. That led to rumors The Port had been sold. 

“The Port has not been sold,” says Hannah Menadue Johnson, president of Menadue Development. “This is the 20th year of ownership by our family. During the winter, it’s difficult to anticipate how many guests will come out, which makes staffing and food orders difficult. Closing for a few weeks helps us manage costs, clean, make menu updates, and look at event scheduling, staffing and training before the busy season.”

Menadue Johnson says all staff were laid off during the closure but are eligible to apply for re-hire. 

“Some chose to pursue different opportunities during that time,” she says. “We wish them nothing but the best.”

The Port restaurant doors reopened March 14 in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Menadue Johnson says key staff positions were filled with people who have worked at The Port and now have expanded roles.  

Kayla Valentine is The Port’s new general manager. 

“I started working at The Port in early 2015 as a front desk clerk. From there, I learned everything I could at both the hotel and restaurant. I began working as the event coordinator and soon took on the hotel manager position, too,” Valentine says. “As the general manager, I oversee the hotel and restaurant and will continue to run events. I’m very excited to begin this role. I have always loved The Port and the people we get to serve.”

Tory Thompson has worked in The Port’s kitchen for several years and returns in 2024 as the head chef. 

“Tory is an excellent chef with extensive experience,” says Valentine. 

Amanda Hemann is the front-of-house manager, and Amanda Rambo is the bar manager.

“Amanda Hemann worked with us as the lead bartender about 10 years ago and came back last year to help in the kitchen,” Valentine says. “She is a jack of all trades and loves the community. Amanda Rambo has worked with us for a few years and is an experienced bartender. She is very creative, and our patrons have really grown fond of her.”

This is the view from The Port deck that runs along the west side of the restaurant and connects to the hotel. Live bands will perform from the concrete medallion between the two palm trees each weekend through the summer months.

A new menu for the 2024 season includes many of the dishes customers enjoyed last season, although Valentine says it will continue to be tweaked as the staff receives customer input this spring. The new menu offers six appetizers, nine entrees, six sandwiches, three salads and eight side dishes. 

“We brought back some old favorites like Broccoli Alfredo, The Port Asian Stir Fry and the Atlantic Salmon,” she says. “We are excited about some new additions like our classic Caesar Salad, Tory’s Creamy Cheddar Penne and the pulled pork sandwich. All indoor seating, including the bar, will be served the full dinner menu. In addition, Amanda Rambo will be working on some fun drink specials and possibly a happy hour, but that is still in the works this spring.”

The popular tiki bar is set to open Memorial Day weekend. As was the case last year, a simple grill menu will be available during busy hours to take pressure off the kitchen. Entertainment will include one band each weekend. Bands that were booked prior to the winter closing are being considered for the upcoming season and will be announced on The Port’s Facebook page as dates approach. 

A fire in October 2018 had the restaurant closed until the following summer. Reconstruction of the building resulted in a new layout, equipment and furniture. Menadue Johnson says this year will bring new paint for the tiki bar, and updates are in the works for the boat docks and parking lot.

On a side note, The Port hotel has had some recent upgrades. 

“We got new paint in all rooms and hallways, new tile in the lobby and beautiful stone work on our fireplaces and hot tubs,” Valentine says.

Current restaurant hours are Thursday, 5-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5-9 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon. Hours will expand in May.

“We look forward to serving old and new customers with great food, drinks and the best view this year,” Menadue Johnson says. “We hope locals and visitors to the lake feel welcome to join us for live music, drinks at the tiki bar, and casual, upscale dining inside.” 

Valentine says The Port staff members are happy to be serving patrons again. 

“Our goal is to be more family oriented and locally involved in the community, while still maintaining our fun and vacation-like atmosphere,” she says. “We are looking into more ways to connect and support our community. We hope to bring new activities to The Port, including during our off season. Stay tuned to our Facebook page to keep updated on our hours, plans and upcoming events.”

The Facebook page is “The Port on Lake Panorama.” The business website is and offers contact information, hours of operation, menus and online ordering. Event, wedding and other inquiries can be emailed to Kayla Valentine at The hotel and restaurant phone number is 844-888-7678.