Garrett County Government - Department of Business Development

In the Spotlight - Lakeside Creamery: The Rewards Have Never Been Sweeter

Last Updated on Jul 7, 2015 at 3:23pm | Tourism & Recreation

"In The Spotlight!" is a regular feature of The Lake-Front magazine and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue.
Nothing says summer like ice cream! And nothing beats the tempting taste of the homemade ice cream served at Deep Creek Lake’s very own Lakeside Creamery, now celebrating its 20th year of business in our community.
Lakeside Creamery is owned and operated by Baltimore native Bill Meagher, who had long dreamt of owning his own ice cream shop. As a student at Penn State University, Bill had studied the science of ice cream making and had the pleasure of meeting Dick Warren, owner of the renowned Four Seas Ice Cream Shoppe in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From Warren, Bill not only learned how to make delicious ice cream, but also the value of running a small family-based business.
Knowing he wanted to stay fairly close to Baltimore to be near family and especially his two grandfathers, who had both been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers, Bill looked for a resort area that had a need for the type of business he wanted to open. In November of 1994, Bill and his future wife Kathy traveled to Deep Creek Lake to look at property. When he found the small white building located right along the shores of Deep Creek Lake, he knew he had found the right spot. That winter, Bill enlisted the help of family and friends to transform the one time sub shop into the business of his dreams…in his words...“a place where people would come year after year and bring their children, and their children‘s children.” Lakeside Creamery opened its doors in May of 1995 and twenty years later, Bill, Kathy, and their two sons, Will (age 13), and Nick (age 10) have worked hard to make Bill’s dream a reality.
Not much has changed in the shop since its opening because Bill discovered the formula for success early -- a friendly, helpful staff, consistency of operations, and, of course, a delicious, quality product. Bill and his staff have perfected the recipes of over 110 flavors of homemade ice cream using the finest ingredients available, including milk and cream from over 20 local dairy farmers. According to Bill, Fike’s United Dairy makes the cream and milk base and delivers it to the Creamery where it is spun into ice cream with various flavorings and ingredients added to turn it into your favorite mouth-watering summertime (and anytime) delight.
Bill has won The National Ice Cream Retailers Association’s Blue Ribbon for both his vanilla and chocolate ice creams, and the Creamery has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, as well as Frommer’s Travel Guide.
There are 24 flavors of ice cream available daily at The Creamery and you’ll also see their mobile unit at various locations throughout the summer and fall. While you’ll find all the standard flavors, including their award winning chocolate and vanilla, you might want to try some of their specialty flavors. Customer favorites include Coconut, Peanut Butter Fudge, Pistachio, Cookie Dough, Black Raspberry, and Mocha Chip. Their seasonal flavors made from fresh fruit, including Peach, Strawberry, and Cantaloupe, are delicious and savory. Bill and his staff are always experimenting with new flavors and continually adding to their repertoire. This year’s addition: Maple Bacon. “It’s good!” says Bill.
One cone not enough? Take a quart or two home with you. The Creamery also offers delicious thick shakes, sundaes big enough for two to share, and fresh fruit smoothies. They also have ice cream cakes…sure to make any birthday or gathering complete. Lakeside Creamery is also available at various restaurants around the lake, including Smiley’s Pizzeria, Ace’s Run Restaurant and Grill, and Brenda’s Pizzeria.
Bill says his success is a result of the people he’s surrounded himself with. “From day one, I’ve always had a great staff,” he says. Bill has hired local high school and college age kids to work with him since the beginning, and he’s enjoyed watching them succeed in their lives outside their time at the Creamery. “I’ve had nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers, kids in every profession start at The Creamery. I’m so very proud of them all.” He adds, “To me, they ARE the Creamery…they make it fun.”
Bill is much more than a boss, he is also a mentor. He lets his staff decide on many of the policies and procedures for the business, as well as the consequences for a staff member that may not follow them. “I also try to incorporate a staff member’s college major into their work responsibilities…it’s kind of like a paid internship,” adds Bill.
In fact, as part of his 20th year Anniversary Celebration, Bill is hosting a reunion dinner during Autumn Glory for his former and current staff, their significant others, and of course, their children. “After 20 years of business, you’d think that would be a lot of people, but it’s really just 200 staff members,” says Bill. “The average tenure here is 6.5 to 7 years.” Which just shows that people enjoy working with Bill as much as he enjoys working with them.
While the business model for the Creamery has basically stayed the same, Bill has expanded into other business ventures. Next to ice cream, Bill loves caramel popcorn, especially that made at his favorite vacation spot: Fisher’s Popcorn in Ocean City. Bill had the privilege to meet and befriend Mr. Fisher, who taught Bill how to make his famous popcorn. Thirteen years ago, he built a second building on his lakefront lot and opened The Copper Kettle Popcorn Factory, right next door to The Creamery. Open year round, the Copper Kettle Popcorn Factory features over 24 delicious flavors of popcorn, as well as 16 flavors of homemade fudge, hand-dipped chocolates, nuts and more.
A few years ago, he opened FunTime Watersports, a WaveRunner rental operation housed at the same lakefront location. This year, he’s expanded that to include pontoon rentals and lake tours, as well as boat service. He also purchased an existing business: Canvas Creations, a longtime local manufacturer of awnings and boat covers, and opened McHenry Deep Creek Sweets, located at The Fort in McHenry.
Business has been good to Bill, but he also believes in giving back. He and his family are very active in our community. Bill has served on the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce and as Chair of that board as well as being involved with the Maryland State Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, The Greater Cumberland Committee, the Garrett County Development Corporation, and Advisory Committee to the Board of Education. He also coaches his sons’ soccer, baseball, and basketball teams.
Bill loves passing on his ice cream making skills to his staff but also teaches formal courses at the University of Wisconsin. “I love sharing the technical reasons and purpose behind food science,” says Bill. “But it’s also fun to watch students and staff create their own flavors.”
Lakeside Creamery is located at 20282 Garrett Highway (U.S. Route 219) and is open daily through Autumn Glory weekend. The season ends with another tradition: The No Hands Sundae Eating Contest on Autumn Glory Sunday whose proceeds benefit Garrett Mentors. Boat docking is available, so come by boat or car, and enjoy one of the favorite vacation destinations in the area…a cone, sundae or shake at Lakeside Creamery.