Kristie was born here in Effingham, Illinois and moved to Maine when she was only two years old. She returned to Effingham frequently with her family to visit her grandparents, Lowell and Lucille (Nina) Samuel. During the summers, Kristie and her brother would catch fireflies in their backyard. In the evenings, their grandmother would put the fireflies in mason jars and sing them to sleep on her screened in porch. These are some of Kristie's earliest and most cherished memories. firefly is fondly named in their honor.
Kristie never had a background in the restaurant business. Just boiling an egg was truly a stretch for her. Working as a buyside equity trader, she was slinging stocks for Fidelity Investments in Boston, and even though she could handle billion dollar trades with hundreds of orders, Kristie was unable to master anything more complicated than pressing the start button on the kitchen microwave. Needless to say, she ate out a lot which in turn made her an expert customer.
When the tragic events of September 11th occurred, her world, like so many others, was turned upside down. She lost friends and colleagues that day along with her sense of career.
In the wake of that tragedy, Kristie made a decision to take a leave of absence. She went to visit friends, who happened to be restaurateurs, on a tiny island off the coast of Puerto Rico called Vieques. The island is so small, there isn't even a traffic light, but there was a very cute and charismatic chef. Kristie fell in love, shocked everyone by quitting her job and moving to Puerto Rico which began her induction into the restaurant business.
Niall, the very cute chef, also grew up in Maine on a small dairy farm. No stranger to hard work, Niall was a natural in the kitchen. His ambitious nature led him out of the house at the young age of 16, washing dishes to pay the bills and saving money to travel the world. "Money was tight when I was growing up; I grew up on a farm before moving out on my own at 16. I was home alone a lot as a kid & experimented with what little we had in the kitchen, that's where I got the bug. But when I got the dishwasher job, I got fed and I got a paycheck, it was a necessity."
Niall started his travels in Salt Lake City and made his way up the coast learning as he went. Eventually he decided to work a salmon season in Alaska, he said the experience made for good stories but that he never needed to repeat it.
At the time he met Kristie, Niall was in Puerto Rico helping mutual friends, Rick and Honor, open their new restaurant, the Blue Macaw. Together, Kristie and Niall embraced this challenging yet wonderful experience of getting a restaurant off the ground.
The pair stayed in Puerto Rico for a few years before deciding to get married and return to the mainland. Niall had taken a job at Bradley Ogden's Lark Creek Inn outside of San Francisco. On the way to California, they stopped in Effingham to get Kristie's things out of storage and they commented on how Effingham could benefit from a restaurant like the one they wanted to create someday.
Niall and Kristie moved everything they owned in the world to San Francisco, planning to live there indefinitely. After 5 months, they received an email from an Effingham developer, Jack Schultz, who had heard through the grapevine that Kristie was marrying a chef and that someday they want to open a restaurant. That "someday" turned out to be that day.
Jack loved their ideas and Niall loved the land. Niall insisted on an onsite garden if they were going to open a restaurant in Effingham.
With the help of their incredible community, Jack and his team at Agracel, some radical investors, a visionary at Newton State Bank, an incredible architect, Cass Calder Smith, Kristie and Niall's dream, firefly was born.
They wanted to create a space that would be like coming into their own home. The kitchen is the heart of the Campbell house, which is why they created an exhibition kitchen so that their customers could see all of the love and hard work that goes into the dishes firsthand.
firefly's vision is a sustainable one: the frame of the building is recycled steel, all of the barn wood is reclaimed, the chairs were recycled from the Hard Rock in Manhattan, the pond irrigates the gardens which greatly reduce firefly's carbon footprint along with all the trash eliminated from avoiding packaged foods. They grow mint, not only for the menu, but to also keep the mosquitos away. Nothing but love goes into the farm. Absolutely no pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers are used.
Food they can't grow themselves is sourced locally whenever possible by using sustainable fisheries, artisan farmers, and foragers. The firefly philosophy on food is: keep it simple, source the best ingredients possible, and stay out of their way.
The Boar's heads over the bar are the Campbell family crest. The tartan is the Campbell of Argyll tartan and the pictures in the main dining area are from Kristie and Niall's wedding. The pictures outside of the bathroom are of the BEST decision the Campbells ever made, their daughter Camden Carolyn Campbell.
To Kristie and Niall, Camden is a living dream and reinforces all of the reasons why they do what they do.
firefly is here to nourish and care for you so you feel you are coming home.
Welcome home - we're so glad you're here!