Nestled right on Main Street in a quaint little town of about 300, visitors to Kitzmiller, Maryland, will step right back in time to the days when neighbors took care of neighbors...to the days when one little place in town was the gathering place to eat, to buy groceries, to buy gifts and home decor.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Nestled right on Main Street in a quaint little town of about 300, visitors to Kitzmiller, Maryland, will step right back in time to the days when neighbors took care of neighbors...to the days when one little place in town was the gathering place to eat, to buy groceries, to buy gifts and home decor.
Just last week, I discovered the Coal Bucket Restaurant - a homey, comfortable place filled with delicious, homemade food, wonderful people, beautiful hand-crafted Christmas gifts for sale and "country store" groceries. Absolutely delightful to find this charming gem!
My sister Debbie specifically traveled up here from Stephens City, Virginia, to take a gander at Coal Bucket, and neither of us was disappointed. No pouring down rain was going to spoil our afternoon!
Julia Wilt was our server, and as I would quickly find out, she happened to be the daughter of my friend Margie Reel of Elk Garden! Just a stone's throw away between Coal Bucket Restaurant and Mineral County!! Plus, when we were almost ready to go, in walks Margie's mom. How did I know who she was in this little small world? Margie looks just like her mom!
How marvelous to meet someone like Julia. She is the perfect example of what customer service is all about. Furthermore, Julia is an example of being happy where she works. She loves her job, and she is the perfect ambassador for Garrett County and its simple, yet wonderful places to kick up your feet and enter the world of how small towns can have big hearts
We also had the privilege of meeting the owner, Barb McKenney, who came out to our table to make sure everything was to our liking. Oh yes, Barb - perfect. As an appetizer, we shared pickle fries with two kinds of homemade ranch dressings, then for lunch I had a hot roast beef sandwich with french fries and gravy, coleslaw and macaroni salad. Shhhhhhhh, don't tell anyone, but I saved room for dessert - home-baked apple bread pudding with a cinnamon apple sauce and some cream. Absolutely sinfully delicious!
According to Barb, back in 2012, she was at home with her son and a friend, and her son commented that she should open a restaurant since she cooks all the time anyway. She really had never thought of it until that moment, and told her son SHE WAS RETIRED! However, she slept on it, and the following morning, she had made the decision to purchase this old building and open it up as a community gathering place. She has never once regretted her decision.
There was no doubt that something like this was needed in the community. At the time, there was no restaurant, no country store and no gift shop in town. Since it's a small community and residents walk to and from where they need to go, Barb wanted to open up a place...a destination...where the townspeople could eat and fellowship with one another.
"I have six invaluable employees who work with me. But, they are more than just employees. They are family, we are family. These girls go above and beyond every single day. For example, last Sunday when we had our Christmas dinner at the restaurant, after we closed, all of us chipped in and washed dishes... without one complaint from anyone. It's just what we do. We all work together and help each other," says Barb.
Barb told me that she even had one girl by the name of Stephanie who hasn't worked at the Coal Bucket for years. Stephanie had convinced Barb that the restaurant needed a Facebook page, and it took some doing to convince Barb to venture into an online presence. To this day, Stephanie continues to manage the Facebook page for Barb. Here is the link to Coal Bucket Restaurant:
fb://page/287781631343098
Now, this is an interesting fact to give you an idea of how hard these ladies work: at last week's Christmas dinner, Barb peeled and cut up 75 lb of potatoes for the dinner. The dinner ran from noon to 4:30 pm, with folks coming all over to enjoy the turkey and ham and all of the trimmings. She also was tickled to death with some brand-new customers!!
Tonight, Dec. 21, will be just for children and their families. The kitchen and restaurant will be closed at 5 p.m., but all children attending at 6 p.m. will have the opportunity to sit with Santa Claus as he reads several Christmas stories. Children will receive hot cocoa, Rice Krispie treats, and a goodie bag, and families are encouraged to bring their own cameras. This event is held every year as a way to give back to the community. Barb strongly believes that she has been so blessed in life, and this little community Christmas party is just one way she can pay it forward.
Coming up this Sunday, Dec. 23 (the Coal Bucket is famous for Sunday dinners) from noon-5 p.m. will be a hot roast beef sandwich with real mashed potatoes (it's hard to find these today when eating out), homemade gravy and a vegetable. I can vouch for the roast beef and tell you from experience - it is tender, flavorful and bountiful. Just-Must.
On New Year's Day, Jan. 1, the coal bucket will have a pork and sauerkraut dinner, including homemade mashed potatoes and vegetables for $8.50. The holiday dinner runs from noon-5 p.m.
Earlier, I had mentioned that there are Christmas crafts, decor and primitives throughout the upstairs - and through the end of the year - EVERYTHING is 50 percent off. Shop before you eat or after - but shop. This place is quaint, non-pretentious - standing proudly on Main Street in one of the smallest incorporated towns in Garrett County. Barb offers this 50 percent off deal two to three times a year.
But, keep in mind that the Coal Bucket will be closed from Dec. 24-31, so if you are shopping, get there before Christmas Eve. Barb says her work family deserves to be with their own families throughout Christmas and New Year's. She sounds like my kind of boss.
Just a little bit of information about the restaurant: their regular hours after the first of the year are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Sundays they are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on Mondays. As far as inclement weather (Garrett County is a little famous for that LOL) - Barb opens up regardless, as there will always be someone who needs something. On those kinds of days when her work family cannot make it in to work, Barb opens up and serves as hostess, cook, cashier, server, dishwasher, and anything else she needs to do to be available to anyone who wants to come in and do business. Barb calls these days "Days of Tolerance" because the guests have to tolerate the many "hats" Barb has to wear when she is short-staffed!
I guess she's kinda like the post office - rain, snow, sleet or hail - Barb is there at the Coal Bucket! Except on Mondays - girl's gotta rest sometime LOL.
Make a point to head up to Kitzmiller. It's only about 20 miles from Westernport where I live, so even if it sounds like Kitzmiller is far away...it is not - at all. Many of us are already accustomed to traveling  for fine dining or doctor appointments and such. They feature a daily special, as well as their regular menu (which you can read on their Facebook page).
Me? After the first of the year, I plan on a weekly excursion to this wonderful place, and will be inviting others to join me so we can enjoy the ambiance and delicious foods and conversation together! Coal Bucket Restaurant seats 40.
You can also call up to the restaurant and place an order for some of the delicious homemade desserts they have available: apple bread pudding (my and Debbie's five-star recommendation), apple dumplings, brownies, applesauce cake, chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, pumpkin and pudding pies and their famous Dreamsicle Cake. They also have homemade soups such as 15 bean, potato, white chicken chili, broccoli cheese, vegetable, chili, German potato and chicken noodle that you can order by the quart or gallon. And FYI - even though they certainly are small-town, simple and charming there in Kitzmiller, they do accept credit cards for their customers' convenience.  (301) 453-3377
When you head up, make sure to sign their guest book, and let them know I sent you!! I hope you have the opportunity to meet some of the Coal Bucket staff - there are Barb and Julia, of course, plus some of the other happy faces will be Brandi, Crystal, Millie, and Becky. Come hungry, eat plenty, and sit a spell. So worth the trip, my friends.
Each little town we know has its favorite little spots like this one. My New Year's resolution (one of my five) is to visit the small-town, simple places all over the area, invite some of my local Facebook friends to join me (even if we have never met in person), and just get together for dutch-treat lunches or dinners and get to know one another. Just simple conversation, fellowship, sharing of pictures and families and some comfort food. I rather look forward to these ventures...yes I do. We will start with the Coal Bucket - a "Just-Must" kinda place.
The following link is an article with photos featuring Coal Bucket Restaurant - by author Jamie with onlyinyourstate.com
https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/maryland/two-story-country-store-and-restaurant-md/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=maryland&utm_campaign=newsletter