Trio of 'country boys' to start family restaurant

October 16, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Three "country boys" from Baltimore have gone to Carroll County to find out if their style of country cooking will be successful in a rural setting.

In the city, at least, their style has already hit it big.

"I'm a private school boy, but I've always been interested in country," said Shawn Connacher, who expects to open Stables, an American family-style restaurant, with Christos Dardaminis and Angelo Epitropakis this month.

"That's the only kind of music there is anyway," said Mr. Dardaminis, who ran the Club Stabiles in Highlandtown for almost 30 years.

The country nightclub, still operating on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore, was known for bringing in big-name Nashville acts.

"The boom-boom-boom and the screaming, that's not music," said Mr. Dardaminis, who retired and sold Stabiles two years ago. "I'm an old country boy, not a Coca-Cola cowboy. Country music is all I know, it's all I like."

But rather than trying to improve on a successful concept, the three partners -- two of whom were frequent customers at Stabiles -- will follow what they see as a rising trend and open a family-style restaurant.

Mr. Dardaminis said country music and dancing with the best bands in the three-state area will be featured on weekends, but that won't be the Westminster restaurant's focus.

"People would rather go out and eat now than drink," he said. "This is going to be a full restaurant with excellent food at very low prices. Food will be available at all hours.

"We're here to do a business, not to take anybody's money."

Seafood, steaks and crabs will be offered amid a rustic decor with lots of wood, Mr. Dardaminis said.

"It will all be Americana, with a Western motif," he said. "I will have clean tables and good food where a family can go out to eat and not spend half a paycheck."

Quite a change from what used to be on the site, the former Os and Ginny's crab house, at the corner of Route 97 and Main Street.

The bar was once a local landmark, a place where residents could mingle with the Baltimore Colts, who made it their hangout while training at Western Maryland College in the 1950s and '60s.

But when Baltimore's beloved football team left to train in other places in the area and eventually left the state, Os & Ginny's grew seedy and attracted more of a biker crowd than football-crazed fans.

Since the bar closed in 1990, two restaurants have operated briefly in the location.

But Mr. Dardaminis and his partners said they can change the location's reputation.

"My old place had a rough reputation when I got it," Mr. Dardaminis said. "For 28 years, it had been in trouble with the liquor board, the police, the works.

"In my restaurant, proper attire is required and a right attitude. I've spent over a quarter of a million on renovations."

Those renovations included installing a 17-by-38-foot kitchen and knocking out walls to make the basement-level restaurant more spacious, he said.

"No bums are going to come here," Mr. Dardaminis said.

The new restaurant will have a built-in following of Club Stabiles' customers, the partners said.

"I have a lot of customers here," Mr. Dardaminis said. "They've been after me for five years to open a place here. I have a lot of friends here, and when they told me about it [the vacant restaurant], I came to see the place and said go ahead with it."

Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis, owner of Tevis Oil in Westminster and one of the investors leasing the property to the trio, said he's confident Mr. Dardaminis can live up to his word.

While he was watching the renovations one afternoon, a group of motorcyclists rode in to see if the bar had reopened, Mr. Tevis said. After a stern lecture from Mr. Dardaminis, they left, he said.

"I really think he can make it," Mr. Tevis said. "He has the longevity and experience in the restaurant business to get it going."

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