+ By Emma Harrigan Campbell + Photos bySarah Jane Holden
If, while taking a walk in West Annapolis, you’ve spotted a large eggplant statue, then congratulations, you have found Evelyn’s. Just opened last year, Evelyn’s is a unique eatery that provides locally sourced, fresh ingredients in its meals for an affordable price. Inside, paintings of flowers adorn the gray walls, and more flowers are set on every table, providing an extra touch of comfort. The lively, warm atmosphere is enhanced by the light buzz of chatter from the patrons. A pleasant hostess seats people with a smile, calling them “dear” as if she has known them for a long time. From the bright, busy, kitchen the smell of freshly made pancakes wafts through to the dining area.
On the wall, a chalkboard decorated with floral vines welcomes customers and provides more information about the restaurant in swirly handwriting: “At Evelyn’s, we are committed to a ‘plant to plate’ mentality. We will strive to source locally (when possible) by working with farmers in our community to provide the freshest ingredients possible.” This principle was a prominent motivator for the restaurant’s founder, Brandon Stalker. “Everything we do here is local,” he says. “It’s locally sourced food, local artists . . . there’s plenty of stuff right here to be able to supply what you need.” A resident of Annapolis for nearly all of his life, Stalker aims to make this restaurant a haven of sorts for the locals.
Another of Stalker’s aspirations was to create an eco-friendly, sustainable restaurant. All ingredients are set in a crop-rotation system, which is healthier than attempting to grow the same crops year-round—a practice that may rely on more chemicals and energy. The restaurant also makes an effort to recycle as much as possible and minimize waste. Anything that does not have to be powered electrically is powered with natural gas. These efforts create an environmentally conscious eatery that may benefit both patron and planet.
Stalker began forming the idea of Evelyn’s about six years ago, while helping at Caroline’s Cakes. There, he discovered his interest in the restaurant business and one of the biggest rewards in the trade, “[The] instant gratification of watching people enjoy your food,” he says. Stalker strives to make his menu, prices, and policies accessible and open to everyone. The breakfast and lunch menus include everything from quiche to burgers, with many gluten-free and vegan options available. The food is high quality and the most expensive item is 15 dollars. The children’s menu is well developed, inspired by Stalker’s two children.
One of these children is six-year-old Evelyn, who often proclaims that this is her restaurant, “My dad just manages it,” she explains. She occasionally tags along with her father and helps out around the shop with unabashed excitement. While mom-and-pop establishments have been dwindling over the years, Evelyn’s manages to preserve the wholesomeness of a small, local business with familial energy.
Supporting other local vendors is of great importance to Stalker, especially the artists. He loves art, and displaying the paintings and sculptures from artists around the area seemed like a natural course of action. Along with the eggplant, several asparagus stocks sprout out of the ground in front of the restaurant, and a large pear stands on the corner of Giddings and Annapolis. Viewers are often amused by the creations, hand built by Jan Kirsh, and stop in to inquire about them.
Evelyn’s works to perfect every aspect of its institution. Externally, it draws attention with the striking sculptures and pops of color. Internally, an atmosphere and décor radiate a comfortable ease that makes customers feel right at home. The emphasis on local eating instills a sense of pride in Annapolis for producing such fantastic ingredients for the benefit of the locals. Then finally, are the dishes themselves, creating a meal that replaces thoughts of hunger with awe. Enjoy. █