Same latitude, different attitude,” perhaps best describes the vibe at The Sandbar, celebrating its first anniversary in Tappahannock this month. “Play, eat and relax,” is the advice posted inside the doors leading to the spacious dining room and bar, where laughter, spirited conversation and friendly waves greet regulars and newcomers alike.
Whether you’re stopping by after work for a cocktail, or meeting a group for drinks and dinner, “You can be comfortable here,” said Sandbar co-owner Pete Ferebee. “You’re among friends.”
Ferebee and his business partner, Leigh Packett, opened The Sandbar, at 1267 Hobbs Hole Dr., last year with the vision of a casual, neighborhood restaurant where all are welcome and “everyone feels special, no matter who they are.”
The pair were colleagues in other businesses and saw a great opportunity, with an existing restaurant in a convenient location, to team up and follow their hearts into a people-pleasing new adventure. Ferebee has had the restaurant business in his family DNA since 1956, and Packett has a philosophy of treating customers “like the people we love at home.” She also brought along her collection of family recipes -- notably Key lime pie and coconut custard pie.
In preparation for opening day, they brightened the restaurant’s decor with a fresh coat of paint and removed the formal window drapery. They expanded outdoor seating, added an awning and took down a glass partition separating the bar from the dining area. The space is now infused with filtered sunlight or moonlight, thanks to a wall of windows overlooking the wrap-around patio, golf-course fairways and a well-tended pond.
When the weather warms up, The Sandbar’s al fresco tables and Adirondack chairs will provide a scenic venue in which to linger with friends over drinks or a meal. Patrons can look forward to live music on the patio.
Most of The Sandbar’s 10-member staff has been on board since the planning stages and helped prepare for the grand opening.
Chef Brian Stanford has more than 30 years’ experience in the restaurant business. Together with seasoned kitchen staff Shannon Craddock and Aaron Campbell, the group boasts 45 years total in the food service industry.
The Sandbar features Certified Angus Beef steaks, hand-cut on the premises, homemade soups and desserts, fresh ingredients and seasonal menu offerings. Dinner selections can be as simple as cheeseburgers, barbecue, hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese. Fine dining options can include a variety of pastas, seafood, prime rib, steak, chicken, pork and fresh seafood, as well as regular dinner specials.
The appetizer menu provides a diverse mix of light and savory small plates such as tuna bites, scallop bites and mini crab cakes, as well as bar-food favorites like wings, nachos, chicken strips, and even fried pickles. The slider trio -- miniature cheeseburger, barbecue and crab cake -- is a particularly satisfying combo.
Lunch options include homemade soup, as well as a variety of salads and sandwiches, served quickly and at a reasonable price. In addition, The Sandbar offers a lunchtime golf menu. Players can call ahead and pick up their lunch at the course’s halfway mark -- the turn between the ninth and tenth holes. The restaurant also runs a seasonal beverage cart for thirsty golfers.
The bar atmosphere is lighthearted and lively. Mixologists Kelly Brown and Sarah Moody are knowledgeable and creative. They seem equally as skilled at mixing vintage cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, as they are shaking a stylish martini or trendy concoction -- ever heard of a Purple Dragonfly? Beer enthusiasts aren’t forgotten. Virginia beers on tap round out the inventory. Every day brings an interesting drink special, as well as a different quirky quote posted on the whiteboard: “A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.”
The Sandbar is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m. and Sundays until 3 p.m.
Breakfast specialties were added by popular demand. Originally, the restaurant was prepared to open at 11 a.m. each day; however, because the staff arrived by 8 a.m. anyway, and due to the daily arrival of hungry golfers with early tee times, The Sandbar began offering a breakfast sandwich and Bloody Mary combo. That simple specialty evolved into a full-scale breakfast menu and soon other early risers came to call.
Tuesday night at the restaurant features pasta, with a fixed-price special including two pasta entrees, two side salads, a bottle of wine and a dessert to share. Wednesday night is dedicated to the ladies and wine. Springtime brings Thursday “league night” appetizer offerings. Weekend evenings highlight seasonal dinner specialties. On Sundays, the main attraction is breakfast and lunch, with Mimosa and Bloody Mary specials all day.
The restaurant offers an early-bird discount for anyone interested in dining before 6 p.m.Packett added that the facility is equipped to handle intimate, on-site catering.
With its “something for everyone” state of mind, The Sandbar is child-friendly as well, offering a kids’ menu complete with Shirley Temples and other mocktails. Techno-savvy patrons of every age can take advantage of free WiFi.
The wait staff of Garlyn Bundy, Crystal Anderson, Chelsea Burch, Shauna Lewis and Donna Johnson cheerfully accommodates special requests. “As much as we love our regulars, we love new faces,” said one enthusiastic server.
Ferebee and Packett skillfully team up to work the room. They are routinely seen greeting customers, helping at the bar, or even lending a hand behind the food prep line. “You do what you need to do,” said Packett.
Looking over the restaurant at the one-year mark, Ferebee is happy with what he sees — a bustling crowd of friends, families and neighbors. Beginning with a vision of a user-friendly, local eatery and implementing a “come one, come all” attitude, Ferebee smiles as the plan comes together. “It’s working out just as we intended.”
To learn more about The Sandbar, call (804)443-1800. Catering services also available.