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The Taste: Stan and Joe’s Saloon offers fun food, great music, and camaraderie

Nov 23, 2015 03:29PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Rita Calvert

Stan & Joe’s Saloon
37 West Street, Annapolis // 410-263-1993 //

Stan & Joe’s, a.k.a. the “Mothership,” saloon and pub stands as an Annapolis rendition of “Cheers” on West Street in the lively historic district. Stan Fletcher and Joe McGovern (a.k.a. Little Joe) have a long history of slinging drinks, loving people, and creating camaraderie throughout the Annapolis area. Joe’s humorous answers immediately convey his good nature with a great passion for Annapolis and its people. They won the prize with their Italian/American recipe below.

What is Stan & Joes all about?

A lively locals’ saloon that is geared to great service, great food, and continuing the Annapolis tradition of live local music…and it’s always free!

How did you and Stan come to open the saloon together?

Stan and I are both professional bartenders. Stan’s resume includes Fran O’Brien’s and The Ebb Tide, while mine includes The Eastport Clipper, The Rockfish, and McGarvey’s. Over the years—and many beers!—at each other’s bars, we both came to realize we wanted to open our own saloon. When the opportunity presented itself in 2007, we went all in—or put up or shut up!—and have not looked back.

Do you model your spot after those in other New Orleans or Chicago?

Annapolis is such a unique town, we modeled it after some of our favorite local establishments in this area. The model was—and is to this day—simply that great service wins the day. Pair that with our What’s Up? Annapolis magazine award-winning food—I know…shameless plug!—and it becomes very simple. We are blessed to have the same core of bartenders and servers since we opened, coming up on year nine. We are a family. Trying to maintain the family model can cause drama. Hence our logo “Lose the Drama,” which hangs behind both saloon bars. We decided long ago that the stringent corporate bar machine you find at all the newer cookie cutter strip mall bars, was not for us. It does not provide for the personal touch that we all crave. Sometimes it bites us in the backside, but at the end of the day, we take great pride in the very real version of “Cheers” that we have established in Annapolis and Edgewater.

How did the music concept evolve?

Both Stan and I are huge music fans. Stan is actually the lead singer in a very popular band, A Classic Case. This area has such a brilliant amount of local musicians, we made a decision to support these young artists in every way possible, hence, the “No Cover” policy. Annapolis is touted as a sailing town, but it is also a great music town!

What is a “Tap takeover”?

As we ride the ever-expanding wave of the Craft Beer explosion, we have dedicated certain nights to “Tap takeovers.” We have added a new tap system that allows us to offer over 18 different varieties of draft beer. From the classics to the seasonal to the surreal—try the Chipotle Stout! The tap takeovers allow a certain brewery—and we try to feature local brews as often as possible—to come in and “take over” a number of tap lines to feature their product. New flavors or seasonals are highlighted and we try to pair food specials to entice the huge local craft beer crowd to come in and eat and enjoy a new draft. Always fun!


How does the food and menu dishes come together? Do you have a chef who handles just the food or do you work collaboratively?

We are fortunate to have a great line of communication with our Chef, Lorenzo Vargas, a.k.a. “Naz.” He is also a long-time veteran of the area—ACME, Brian Boru—and understands what the palates of locals and the tourist industry want. We have fresh daily specials that either Stan, Tracy (Joe’s wife and Food Network junkie!), Chef Naz, or I put together personally. All of us are avid cooks and always try to outshine the others with fun, delicious specials. Our ‘Blue Plate’ specials are daily “old school” delights—meatloaf, chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, and more. The new “American Grill” menu took several months to put together as a team and we are very proud to offer more than your average pub grub. From the award-winning wings to blackened shrimp tacos with homemade watermelon mandarin salsa, [we have] weekend prime rib nights, tenderloin, fresh salmon, sea scallops, oysters, shrimp, fresh hand-tossed salads, a damn good burger, and so much more. Our new menu caters to every appetite, large and small.

Naz and Tracy also work well together in our 50 person private dining room upstairs on West Street. From lobster and steak for rehearsal dinners, a fun hamburger buffet for a family of Mids, private parties, to all day business meetings and office parties, the “Lounge,” as it is affectionately called, is a fun extension of the saloon.

When and why did you open a second location? Is it comparable to the downtown Annapolis spot? Do both locations serve brunch?

We opened the Edgewater location four years ago. We have lots of friends on “this side” of the South River and were constantly asked to bring the “S ’n J” experience to South County. While the Annapolis location has a “Pub” feel to it, the Edgewater location has more of a family friendly grill feel. Both share the same menu, both have dog friendly patios, free live local music on weekends, and a large number of regulars who call it “their” saloon.

Both Saloons feature an awesome, family-friendly brunch highlighted by a simple, fresh, and delicious menu. It also features “Tracy’s Award-Winning Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar.” With almost 100 different items to truly personalize your Bloody Mary, it is a fun way to enjoy brunch.

Tell us about your radio gig.

Well, we both have been told we have “faces for radio.” We enjoy a tremendous relationship with local radio station WRNR. Both Stan and I are fiercely proud of our philanthropic events and support of local causes. From filling local food pantries to the two U-Hauls full of food and clothes for Oklahoma tornado victims, to sending almost a ton of supplies to our troops in Afghanistan, the gang at WRNR has always been there when we need them. They are fun, friendly and “get us”—that either makes them brilliant or just as silly. They make it easy. The WRNR commercials brilliantly represent who Stan and I are! At the end of the day we are two proud Annapolis bartenders who took the leap and are grateful for the love and support we get from all. “Two local boys who done good!”



Shrimp Carbonara

Serves 4

If you are a sauce lover, I recommend doubling it. Also you can add any vegetables you would like (mushrooms, peas, etc.)

  • 1 (7-ounce) package spaghetti
  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 20 jumbo gulf shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package. While spaghetti is cooking, cook bacon in 3-quart saucepan over low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon, drain fat from saucepan, reserving 1 tablespoon.

Place shrimp in pan with the bacon fat and cook for 4 minutes over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and shrimp are cooked through; add baby spinach and tomatoes.

Stir in cooked spaghetti, cheese, and whipping cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Toss with bacon.