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Out on the Town

Dining Guide 2017 leads the way to good times

I get nostalgic when this time of year comes around. It isn’t just that we’ve already sped through one-12th of this new year — though that recognition does make me want to throw out an anchor against the tide of time.
    It’s our annual Dining Guide — where we introduce you to two-dozen local eating and drinking establishments — that sends me traveling back in time.
    Restaurants and bars were my family’s business. My mother and father met in the coffee shop of the Mark Twain Hotel in downtown St. Louis. She was a waitress, and he ate lunch there. A succession of bars followed: The Midget and the 34 Club in St. Louis, and places, names long forgotten, in Key West, where Dad’s World War II Navy service in the Shore Patrol opened new doors for his wife and friends.
    Stuck on the dilemma of Key West, where Mother and Dad wanted to stay, and Grandmother Martin’s insistence on Miami, where she’d lived in the 1930s, we moved back to St. Louis. That’s where I grew up, my school years up through college centering on The Stymie Club, the cocktail lounge and supper club my parents opened with Dad’s bit of an inheritance — from whom, I now wonder? — and Mother’s hard-working conviction she could do anything.
    Fast-forward to now, where the week I’ve spent immersed in this year’s Dining Guide reminds me anew that people go to bars and restaurants to have a good time.
    Going out to eat and drink, you let somebody else take over an hour or two of your time. you’ve made an implied contract of your willingness to pay for that somebody’s ability to use that bit of your precious time better than you can.     On the other half of that contract are owners who’ve created eating and drinking establishments from the ground up for your pleasure, just as my family did in their bars and restaurants. They want to feed you, and they promise to do it well. They want to give you a place to find refuge and refreshment. They want to make you so satisfied that you keep coming back, whether to a regular refueling stop or a place so comfortable that it feels, like the Stymie did, like your club. A place that you like will feel that way, if you let it, as you get to know bar and wait staff, owners and regulars.
    Newer versions of the food, drink and camaraderie I remember from my childhood await you in Chesapeake country. In this week’s paper, you’ll see what awaits you in two dozen-plus establishments ambitious to satisfy you. To give you a sense of each place and who’s behind it, what to expect and what it does best, Bay Weekly staff and I have visited repeatedly, eaten and drunk and talked to owners and customers. Each in its own way is committed to living up to that implied contract with you.
    I hope this Dining Guide gives you many good times. I’m starting on mine tonight.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com