Deb Abraham Spalding
As the popular Ott House Restaurant and Pub celebrates its 50th anniversary starting in July 2020, its matriarch and patriarch, Susie (Ott) Glass and Bobby Ott, siblings, said, “We made it fifty years because of family! It’s all about family.”
Bobby and Susie manage the overall business that usually employs around 15 family members making up their average crew of 36 staff. The pair started working at the business as teenagers as did their siblings when their father, Bernard ‘Bud’ Ott, a painter by trade, opened the Ott House in 1970 as a hobby and “something for their son, Pat, to get into,” said Chris (Ott) Wilson. They had nine children, Buddy (deceased), Pat (deceased), Dave, Susie, Chris, Cathy, Bobby, Rosie, and Ritchie.
Today, four—Bobby, Susie, Chris, and Rosie-—are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of the business that continues to run on the foundation that was set in motion from the beginning with their dad, Bud’s, strong work ethic and Pat’s outgoing personality.
Running a family business for 50 years has created a bond with the community that extends the Ott House family circle to include the community and customers.
Susie said, “Not too many places can say they made it 50 years in business. But, customers are still coming back. They have to get their fix. We have our family. Our customers become our family. We have friends all over the nation. There are 50 years of Mount students, Fire Academy staff and students, local patrons, and our own staff members who have become a huge family.”
The Ott House family now spans the nation, and the Otts are humbled by the gracious reception they receive while traveling. They’re grateful for many great friends.
The foundation of family includes the many people who met their husbands or wives at the Ott House. There are many stories of successful relationships of couples who met there, even stories of meeting first and second spouses at the Ott House.
The Ott House is famous for the fire company patches that cover the interior. When the Fire Academy came to town in the early 1980s, the Otts dedicated a wall of the bar for the patches. Bobby called the Fire Academy, “a wonderful addition to our town.” As more and more patches were added, antiques and keepsakes were removed to make space.
Some of the patches were emulsified into the surface of the bar in the early 1990s. Today, there are patches throughout the bar and dining area. It’s become somewhat ceremonial to add a fire patch to the wall. All that are displayed were added by actual visitors to the pub.
In 1980, the Ott House shuttle bus service was added to provide a transportation option for students at the Mount and the Fire Academy. This option was popular and has continued ever since in order to keep customers safe.
With the occurrence of Coronavirus, it may be a while until the bus service resumes its full use, however, the Ott House family has adapted as well as can be expected.
During Coronavirus, the once-thriving restaurant and pub has become what Susie disappointedly described in one word, a “deli,” she added, “with delivery.” She explained, “We used to be a little bit of everything — restaurant, pub, gathering place…”
As the business emerges from Coronavirus, the Otts are focused on getting back to business. As of this article’s printing, the Ott House added some outdoor seating and is open to 50% patron capacity while following state and county guidelines for sanitation and social distancing.
Susie said, “It’s a difficult job. You have to show up and work hard every day.” Most important she explained, “You have to love what you’re doing. It’s a labor of love.”
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, the Otts are planning a celebration. Details will be announced when they are known. Meanwhile, you can purchase anniversary shirts, glasses, and growlers.
The Ott House’s hours are 11-10 Thursday through Monday. For the time being, the pub is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please note that hours can change quickly as Coronavirus regulations change.
The Ott House is located at 5 W. Main Street in Emmitsburg. Call 301-447-2625 for more information.
The Dalmation mascot on the bar in the Ott House has been fitted with a mask and provided some sanitizer in keeping with Coronavirus safety guidelines.
Susie (Ott) Glass and Bobby Ott of the Ott House Pub and Restaurant in Emmitsburg stand behind the bar in the pub. On the wall behind them is a photo of their dad, Bud, from WWII; a Civil War photo of William B. Ott, a distant cousin who resembles their late brother Bud; and a photo of their late brother Pat who started the Ott House business with their father.
Some of the Ott House family members and staff are pictured for Fallen Firefighters weekend.
A plexiglass divider was installed in order to meet Coronavirus safety guidelines during the quarantine. The Ott House, like all restaurants who chose to be open during the pandemic, provided carry-out food during limited hours through June 19, 2020.
In June 2020, the Ott House building received a fresh coat of paint in cream and blue colors. The work was completed by Nusbaum & Ott Painting Company.
Outdoor patio seating was added as a dining option in compliance with COVID regulations. Pictured left to right are Hannah, Lauri, Lindsay, Claire, and Rayven.