Deep Creek’s newest restaurant will offer stunning Lake Views, Distinctive Food, Hand-made Cocktails & Craft Beers
Few events have been as eagerly awaited as the opening of Firewater Kitchen & Bar (formerly known as Spillway), idyllically located on the beautiful shores of Deep Creek Lake, next to Will O’ the Wisp’s Ace’s Run. Firewater Kitchen & Bar is a full service restaurant offering inside and outdoor dining as well as curbside and dockside (in season) delivery. It is the latest endeavor from entrepreneur Brenda McDonnell, owner of three local favorites: Ace’s Run (located next door), Brenda’s Pizzeria and Traders Coffee House.
This unique 3,000 square foot structure, designed by Doug Storck from DCL Design Studio and built by RPM Construction, is a wooden post and beam structure featuring three walls of windows overlooking the lake. The centerpiece of the building is a 50 person wooden bar with comfortable seating as well as tables located along all of the walls so almost every seat in the house can take advantage of the stunning view. On warmer days, all the windows can be pinned up so you will literally feel as though you are on the water.
There is a beautiful freestanding vapor fireplace indoors to cozy up the space on colder days but one of the best aspects of Firewater is the outdoor space. The 1700 square foot deck offers room for ample outdoor seating but the main focal point is the 32” linear gas fireplace, customized for the space by Deep Creek Fireplace that, along with strategically placed heat lamps, will extend the outdoor season well into late fall. There is a bandstand area that will host live music in season but can also be used for private dining. There are already plans to build an outdoor kitchen for next summer.
Other improvements include widening the road leading down to the restaurant and a brand new paved lot so there will be ample parking year round. Brenda and husband (and property owner) Martin Heise obtained 20 additional dock slips this year so ample docking will also be available from May through mid October.
Ambiance, however, is only one reason we go to restaurants…food and drink are the main stars. Brenda and Chef Jesse Howell have really delivered on the food aspect as well, with a diverse and delicious menu featuring everything from deviled eggs to edamame dumplings for starters, a wide variety of salads and sandwiches including a classic Smash Burger, Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Crispy Chicken.
Seafood lovers will delight in a wide variety of menu items including steamed clams, Blackened Salmon BLT, and Oyster Po’ Boy. Those with larger appetites can enjoy a New England Boil featuring whole lobster, scallops, salmon, mussels, redskin potatoes, sweet onion, and butter-garlic broth. They also have a Southern Boil with shrimp, clams, mussels, crab legs, sausage, redskin potatoes and sweet onion in a spicy beer broth. Their Seafood Tower offers a variety of shellfish, crab legs and claws, chilled shrimp and whole lobster with accoutrements.
Other features include Steak Frites, Wild Mushroom Grain Bowl, Pan Seared Scallops and a Raw Bar with Oysters, LittleNeck Clams, Salmon Poke, Scallop Ceviche and Tuna Tacos. With sides like Hand Cut Parmesan Fries, Broccoli Rabe and White Cheddar Grits, there is something for every palate. They’ll also feature seasonal desserts.
“We wanted this menu to be different from Ace’s with unique menu items,” says Brenda. Adds Jesse, “We look forward to working with local farmers and purveyors when product is available and in season. We are also sourcing fresh seafood, meats, and produce from our vendors as well. The food and cocktail menus are designed to work together in harmony and will change with the seasons. I have drawn influences from the local region, as well as my time spent living in Delaware and travels through the south.”
Of course, the name is Firewater Kitchen and BAR, and Brenda has paid special attention here. She has been working with the creative minds of Brittany Nicole Jones and Ryan Wirt, owners of One For The Road, a mobile cocktail oasis and consulting company in Richmond, Virginia. With years behind the bar, they know what it takes to bring the trendiest and most avant garde experience to any space.
Says Brittany, “We will be bringing a unique craft cocktail experience to the bar at Firewater. We have been looking to the classics for inspiration, but will be adding our own creative spin by integrating house-made syrups and infusions. In addition, we will be concentrating on seasonal flavors, fresh juices, and sourcing ingredients locally. Moving into colder weather, one of our favorites to warm your body, mind, and soul will be our Smoked Old Fashioned. Get ready for your olfactory senses to go into overload with our take on this classic cocktail! We’ll be using our new favorite rye whiskey for a beautifully warming base, cane sugar and citrus oils to sweeten the spicy rye just a bit, and finishing with an oakwood smoked glass to enhance the flavor profiles from the aging process of whiskey.”
The couple has been enjoying and working at Deep Creek Lake for years and consider it to be a second home. “Through all of our visits, we were learning more and more about the area and with each event, we were learning what guests were seeking as far as cocktails were concerned. Without even realizing it, we were putting in years of research on what we could bring to the bar program at Firewater that would appeal to both locals and visitors alike,” says Brittany
In addition to cocktails, Firewater will offer a variety of delicious brews from their twelve tap system. This will be a mix of local, craft, and a couple imports as a nod to Brenda’s Irish heritage. The couple have also curated a wine program including amazing varietals to pair well with Jesse’s debut food menu. Adds Brittany, ”We are so incredibly excited for the doors to open so we can spoil each and every guest with genuine hospitality and give you all a taste of what we’ve been working so hard this year to bring to Firewater. We cannot thank Brenda enough for giving us the opportunity to bring something truly special to Deep Creek Lake,”
Firewater Kitchen and Bar will become part of the very storied history as part of the longest commercially developed land on Deep Creek Lake and one of the most beautiful. Most locals are familiar with the story of the Heise Family, Helmuth “Ace” and his wife Evelyn, one of Deep Creek’s first families. Many familiar with our area may know them as the original developers and owners of Wisp Ski Resort but their story really started at Will O’ the Wisp, a series of rustic summer cottages built in 1927, soon after the formation of the lake by Pennsylvania Electric Company.
Ace’s parents, Gustav and Alice Heise,originally purchased the complex from the original owner, Dr. Bullard, a retired dentist, in the 1940s. In 1953, Ace and his bride Evelyn purchased Will O’ the Wisp from his parents. In 1956, with the help of other local leaders, the Heise family built and operated Maryland’s only ski destination, Wisp Resort at Deep Creek Lake to help feed more vacationers to the area in winter.
In November 1961, The Four Seasons Dining Room at Will O’ the Wisp was opened. Operated by the couple, along with their son Martin, the restaurant instantly became popular for its gorgeous lake views and delicious cuisine. In 1973, the existing condominiums at Will O’ the Wisp were completed, and the restaurant continued as one of the area’s most popular dining and special event destinations for almost fifty years. Ace passed away in 2009 and with Evelyn in declining health, Martin decided to close the business in 2012, after half a century of service.
Martin’s wife Brenda couldn’t bear the thought of the place so loved by her mentor and father-in-law sitting empty so in 2016, they remodeled the restaurant and re-opened as Ace’s Run, which has once again become a Deep Creek favorite. Knowing the area needed still more lakefront dining options, the couple decided to build Firewater, to not only take advantage of the stellar view, but also a restaurant that would complement the fine dining menu at Ace’s Run but still offering it’s own unique fare.
Originally slated to open last June, there were many pandemic related delays but Firewater Kitchen & Bar will open in mid to late November. The restaurant will then be open daily year-round serving lunch and dinner. Follow them on Facebook for updates and a more in-depth look at the menu.