THE GUEST book read like a who's who of the Annapolis sailing community. That's because the sailing crowd has a new gathering spot.
The kick-off party at the Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport was lively, with friendly people and a comfortable atmosphere. And the televisions showed clips from the Wednesday night races made famous by the dearly missed Marmaduke's Pub, once known as the unofficial yacht club of the East Coast.
The new bar, set to officially open this week, is filling a void in the neighborhood left by the closing of Marmaduke's, but that's where the similarities between the two end - almost. Doodle Stroetzel, a 22-year veteran waitress, cook, bartender, bookkeeper and jack-of-all-trades at Marmaduke's, has joined the Boatyard as a part-time server.
"I ran into an old friend, Kenny Keyworth, who helps Dick and Susan Franyo with their boat, when they were first planning the restaurant," Stroetzel says. "He told me I just have to work there when it opens."
"It's a real hometown bar," she adds. "I worked last night, and people I hadn't seen for years were coming up and hugging me, asking me where I've been."
Dick Franyo worked as an investment banker with Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown in Baltimore. He kept a boat at Horn Point for years before settling here.
"We were always putting the boat away and heading back to Baltimore at just the nicest part of the day," he recalls.
After moving here they decided to look for just the right place to open a neighborhood gathering spot and found it at the corner of Severn Avenue and Fourth Street, the historical Main Street of Eastport, and most recently the location of Patton's Pub.
The establishment is near the water and has screened windows and doors that allow bay breezes to blow in. It is filled with art, artifacts and contributions from local residents and boaters. Cindy Fletcher painted the names of 23 current and past boatyards along the bar's rafters, just under oyster cans that evoke Eastport's history.
One of her paintings, depicting a quintessential boatyard scene, hangs in the dining room across from the original collage created by Kathryn Leonard as the official art for this year's Hospice Cup Regatta. A model of America True, an all-woman-crewed America's Cup campaign racing boat, rests above the bar.
Over the entrance hangs a red-and-white flag bearing a large "B." The flag is unlike any of the yacht club burgees or images of the Maritime Republic of Eastport, a tongue-in-cheek name and campaign created by Eastport residents to support businesses and the community in 1998 when the Spa Creek Bridge closed for repairs, effectively cutting them off from the Annapolis "mainland."
Dick Franyo explained that it is the official Alex. Brown flag, which flew aboard the company's merchant clipper ships in the 18th century. The flag ties Franyo's interest in maritime history and culture with his 30-year career with the Baltimore company and his new career as proprietor of a bar and grill.
In the lounge area is found more art, and photographs donated by friends, colleagues and neighbors, most with inscriptions wishing the Franyos well in their endeavor. Among them is a photo of Chessie Racing signed by George Collins, which hangs not far from a picture of Gary Jobson at the helm during the 1979 Fastnet Race, a photo by Annapolis photographer Bob Dollard and one of Annapolitan Tom Schubert's former boat, Anejo. Schubert and Franyo both sail small, classic-design Herreshoff 12 1/2 's, and can occasionally be seen racing at the mouth of the harbor.
On the street corner near the bar is a neighborhood bulletin board provided by the restaurant. On the side of the building is a "dog bar" - a spigot for keeping the area's four-legged companions refreshed. A rooftop "weather station" from Weems and Plath's Pete and Cathie Trogdon reports atmospheric conditions to people inside the bar via beautiful instruments.
The Franyos asked the community to help name the restaurant. They challenged the neighbors to turn on their creative juices and offered a gift certificate to the person who came up with a name they liked well enough to use. From more than 100 contestants, Mike Miron, author, columnist, local historian and one of the movers behind the new Annapolis Maritime Museum, won with his suggestion, Boatyard Bar and Grill.
Dick Franyos says he has always been fascinated by the sights, smells and inhabitants of boatyards. He says, "Like boatyards, we hope to serve a variety of people who we hope will call our place home: our neighbors, people who work here and the many sailors and power boaters, racers and cruisers, fishermen or anyone who just likes to hang out around boats and the water."