Rams Head is a family tradition

March 18, 2007|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When William Muehlhauser purchased the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis in 1989, the establishment seated 30 patrons and had five employees. The restaurant was a family establishment, and Muehlhauser involved his family in building the business. His son Kyle began working at the restaurant as a dishwasher at age 15. He continued working at the Rams Head through college. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Maryland.

Following in his father's footsteps, Kyle, now 29, opened the second tavern in 1999, in historic Savage Mill, a 19th-century textile mill between Baltimore and Washington.

It was just what the mill needed, said Steve Adler, the managing partner for Savage Mill for the past 11 years.

"When we finished doing the restoration work at the mill, we wanted to add a destination restaurant," said Adler. "We could just picture it here from the start. And it's done everything we hoped it would for the mill."

Well before the opening of the Savage tavern, Rams Head had been established as a destination in Annapolis.

People in the Savage area were familiar with the name before the doors opened.

In addition to the Savage location, the Rams Head has five other locations throughout the region, including Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis; Rams Head Tavern in Rehoboth Beach; Rams Head Road House in Crownsville; Rams Head Shore House in Stevenson, and Rams Head Live in Baltimore.

"Ram's Head is known throughout the East Coast," said Kyle. "It has a casual atmosphere that appeals to everyone. It's a national entertainment venue."

Offering a full menu, live music and a sports bar, the Savage restaurant is expanding in the spring. The expansion is to include more outdoor seating behind the restaurant, as well as a new area in front.

"Anyone within a group is comfortable here," said Erin Burnst, who does marketing for the establishment. "When you come to the Rams Head, you have multiple environments to choose from - a sports bar, a deck on the river and a fine-dining area. We have many unique ways to make everyone feel comfortable."

For starters, the restaurant offers a menu that includes dishes for every palate. The menu includes cream of crab soup and spinach salad, filet mignon and cheeseburgers and onion rings.

And beverages at Rams Head are an experience. Patrons can join the World Beer Club, a program open to anyone 21 or older. To participate, each person receives a passport that includes about 100 different kinds of beer.

On each visit to the Rams Head, guests can drink up to three brands of beer. They must drink at least half a glass of the beer. Once they have tasted all 100 beers they receive a T-shirt and a mug, and their names are placed on a plaque.

"There are thousands of people in the process of drinking the beers," said Muehlhauser. "It can take years to complete."

Although most of the beer is imported, some brands are brewed by the Fordham Brewing Co., established in 1703 by Benjamin Fordham. The Muehlhausers purchased the brewery in June 1995 and relocated it to Dover, Del., where it produces several brands that are sold in Rams Head locations.

The Rams Head also offers live music at each location. For example, Rams Head Live, which opened in 2004 in Baltimore, will feature shows by The Doors, Lindsey Buckingham and Taylor Hicks, a former winner of American Idol.

The Savage tavern welcomes local and regional musicians, said Muehlhauser.

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