Last September, Donald Kenney got an invite from his friend Joshua McFadden—he of Ava Gene's and Tusk fame—to spend a lakeside weekend in Maine. And though the purpose wasn't pleasure, there was much of that to be had, as the resulting spread from Bon Appétit magazine, published this past July, makes very clear.
There were fried fish sandwiches with steak-like slabs of heirloom tomato. "Faux lobster pho." Blondie sundaes with candied fennel. And cocktails, plenty of them, made by Kenney—the Ace Hotel Portland's general manager, and business manager at bars Spirit of 77 and Pepe Le Moko.
But Kenney had yet another reason for making the trek to Lake Megunticook. He and his two Austin-based partners in hospitality/development concern the Mighty Union had just committed to completely overhauling the historic Suttle Lake Lodge north of Sisters, Oregon—recently purchased by investor/owners Robert Sacks and Dave Schrott of A&R development. (The Mighty Union's continuing role is as the property's operator.)
"We were looking for people to tell us we weren't crazy," says Kenney.
Maybe it was the booze, or the good food, or the camaraderie amidst so much natural beauty. But by the end of the Bon Appétit shoot, Kenney was not only reassured—he'd also enlisted McFadden to create the menu for a newly conceived public restaurant in the lodge's old boathouse.
Last Thursday, the refurbished, rebranded Suttle Lodge opened for business. (Scroll through our slideshow for closer look at this Moonrise Kingdom-meets-classic Adirondacks venture.) There are rustic cabins, luxury cabins, and even a historic cabin. There's a beer garden with six carefully curated taps: Red Tank ciders to tiny Bend-based Bridge 99. There's a record player in the public lobby, flanked by a fireplace, custom-welded bookshelves, and a cozily dim bar.
And, reflecting the biggest takeaway from Kenney's weekend in Maine, there's a brand-new hotel dock jutting out over the lake, fully stocked with kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, and more.
"I went in thinking that docks are for boats," says Kenney. "But docks are for people, to hang out and do nothing. People love docks in all forms."