When Carly O'Neill came back to Bancroft last June with her partner, Chef Shaun Zoernack, neither of them could have predicted that by September they would own and operate a restaurant on Paudash Lake. But this is exactly what happened.
Carly and Shaun were living and working, she as an Event Coordinator for a non-profit and he as a Chef, in Canmore, Alberta before planning a summer visit to Carly's home in Bancroft. Carly's family came from Ireland to Bancroft in 1867 and was one of the original European settlers. Her Aunt still lives in the original family home off of Airport Road. As a kid, Carly spent summers in Bancroft with her father Doug O'Neill. Shaun is from Prince George, British Columbia and knows a thing or two about rural Canada. The pair planned to stay just for the beautiful summer months and then head off to South America on an adventure.
During the summer, they met the previous owners of Mirrors Cafe & Lounge who mentioned they were interested in moving on to different opportunities. Within weeks, Carly and Shaun arranged to purchase Mirrors and put down roots in Bancroft. Over the winter, Carly and Shaun decided to keep the Mirrors branding to help the community get to know the new owners and ease the transition. Over the winter, they operated with two employees plus Carly and Shaun, who has been Red Seal Certified since 2010.
During our chat, Carly was delighted with the reception from the community, "I love the customers who eat here so much." The decision to stay and invest in Bancroft has been a wise one for Carly and Shaun. So much so that they moved forward with the re-branding of the restaurant. To choose a name, they went directly to the customers. After whittling down from five good options, they settled on 'The Lakehouse.' The website is coming soon. In the meantime, the menu and key information is available on Facebook and on the Mirrors website.
Carly and Shaun are focusing on "cottage country fine dining" and plan to serve everyone from "suit jackets to life jackets." They serve elevated, fresh and homemade food on their soon-to-be four seasons patio. Their goal is to be affordable but without sacrificing quality and detail. Their summer dinner menu features BBQ duck wings, fresh PEI mussels, steak salad, burgers, fried chicken and waffles, community favourite Cornflake crusted Lake Eerie pickerel and tons more. Menus will change seasonally, and featured dishes every week serve as a way to test out new dishes. The Lakehouse will feature prime rib dinners every Saturday and Sunday and a weekly Sunday brunch.
With their grand opening last weekend, Carly and Shaun were so impressed at the turnout and the live music from Kerry & Tom Fitzgerald. The brother-sister duo have been invited back for five more musical dates in the upcoming months.
The couple is clearly enamoured with the Paudash Lake, "We wouldn't be doing this anywhere else but here." Another reason to love Paudash Lake has just become clear: The Lakehouse.