Firefly Grill is a modern “roadhouse” restaurant that opened in early 2006 on the shore of Kristie Lake in Effingham, Illinois—200 miles south of Chicago, 90 miles east of St. Louis and 100 miles west of Indianapolis, at the intersection of Interstates 57 and 70. Chef Niall Campbell and his wife Kristie Campbell own and operate the 175-seat restaurant; they are bringing American-fresh cuisine, with lots of grilled and fire-cooked items, to an area where big chains (TGI Fridays, Cracker Barrel, Ryan’s) dominate the offering.
Firefly is built like the beautiful old wooden barns that dot the Midwest, with recycled barn wood siding and a corrugated metal roof. Large, sliding doors provide indoor-outdoor connections at all sides of the building. A wrap-around porch is screened and heated along the lake side. A long dock extends out from the main dining room, with picnic tables for the most casual patrons. In the tradition of American “roadhouse” restaurants, Firefly Grill has its name painted in large text across the length of the metal roof.
A large exhibition kitchen anchors the interior and acts as a hearth; the fire-burning rotisserie and oven heighten the drama of fresh food and fine preparation. The kitchen counter, made from maple butcher block, establishes counter dining, waiter pick-up and fresh appetizer display. Across the room, the zinc-top bar provides generous seating for drinking and eating. The back bar is an informal composition of bottled spirits, books, plasma-screen televisions, and taxidermy boar heads.
The kitchen and bar flank the main dining room, at the center of the restaurant, which enjoys views to the water. High ceilings are vaulted like the inside of a barn and made from recycled barn wood. Floors are dark-stained, wide-plank hardwood, which will wear to a patina finish. American-designed furnishings combine wood and metal.