Doug Yurechko spent his career in construction and DC-area real estate development. But about six years ago, his dad passed away, and his mom suggested they check out a community beer garden called The Creamery of Kennett Square in southern Pennsylvania. The visit stretched at least four hours, and the family had such a blast that Yurechko’s then-six-year-old son didn’t want to leave. Yurechko spent the years since thinking about that trip and how to recreate a place like that of his own.
“My dad spent the majority of his life working with the intent of— when he retired he was going to finally live out some of the stuff he wanted to do that he was never able to do because he was working. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after retiring and passed away about a year later,” Yurechko says. “It just finally dawned on me. You only get one trip around. I’m not going to push off for tomorrow because there’s no guarantee that there is a tomorrow.”
So, Yurechko quit his real estate job. In 2019, he, his mom, and his brother (who works for Netflix in California) bought a historic farmhouse near Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland called the Comus Inn, which had previously served as a wedding venue with a fine-dining restaurant. Yurechko has since transformed the five-acre property into a kid- and dog-friendly destination with a beer garden, all-day restaurant, live music, lawn games, and a summer camp’s worth of activities.
“My goal was to create a venue where our product really is the making of memories with family and friends,” Yurechko says. “I judge some of my success on how many people are on their phones. You look around, and there’s never a kid on their phone.”
The place technically opened last October, but the debut was interrupted by pandemic shutdowns over the winter. With warm weather underway, it’s finally becoming the place Yurechko envisioned. The outdoor space is scattered with shuffle board, bocce courts, lawn chess, Jenga, and outdoor ping pong and foosball. An indoor beer hall is filled with plenty of board games, like Monopoly and Scrabble, that anyone can grab to play. Wednesday is bingo night.|
You can find live music—from country to pop covers—every weekend on the outdoor stage. Beginning in May, look for movies under the stars, with plots of grass that can be reserved in advance. Among the long list of other activities to expect: fire pit s’mores, sunset (and sunrise) yoga sessions, fitness classes, kid programs, and other festivals and events.
Overseeing the restaurant and beer garden is celebrity chef Sam DeMarco—AKA “Sammy D”—who has run restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Australia and beyond. DeMarco’s first restaurant in the East Village attracted fellow industry types for late-night comfort food, earning him the nickname “chef to the chefs.” He claims to be the inventor of the lollipop chicken wing. DeMarco also at one point co-hosted a Travel Channel show called Chow Masters.
While opening a Kimpton restaurant in Amsterdam, DeMarco’s family became close friends with Yurechko’s brother’s family. Yurechko initially hit up the chef to consult on his ambitious new venture. But DeMarco was looking to settle down. He ended up moving to Maryland to oversee the Comus Inn full-time. The chef has since assembled a pedigreed kitchen team, which includes former Equinox pastry chef Brandi Edinger.
The beer hall menu includes snacky dishes like crab dip, peel ‘n eat shrimp, and loaded barbecue nachos alongside Detroit-style pizzas and sandwiches. One of DeMarco’s signatures is a supersized BLT that’s 13 inches long with about a pound of bacon.
A kids menu features the classics—chicken tenders, grilled cheese, PB&J—plus “Comus dirt” dessert cups filled with chocolate pudding and gummy worms. Sweet-tooths of any age can dig into key lime pie or soft-serve ice cream. Edinger bakes treats for dogs too.
Taps pour a dozen beers, half of which are local. You’ll also find a limited selection of wines (under $30 a bottle) plus batched cocktails like margaritas and orange crushes.
The Comus Inn is also open for weekday breakfast and weekend brunch with pastries, a fried-egg sandwich, and lemon cheese “cake” waffles.
The two upper levels of the beer hall will become an affordable prix-fixe, family-style restaurant in early summer. The pandemic has scaled back some of Yurechko’s initial ambitions, at least for now. Next year, though, he hopes to turn an old chicken coop into a market that will sell the Inn’s own sauces and baked goods along with local produce and wine. He’s eventually planning to convert a barn into an adults-only cocktail and whiskey bar.
Yurechko says his dad’s philosophy was “life’s not worth living unless you have a little bit of fun every day.” Now, all the staff wear T-shirts with a motto in his honor: “Have Some Fun Today.”
The Comus Inn. 23900 Old Hundred Rd., Dickerson, Maryland; 301-349-2015. Open Wednesday through Friday from 8 to 11 AM and 4 to 9 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM until 9 PM. Hours will expand in the future.