It has been years since Huntsville restauranteurs Stan Stinson and Tina Ford brought their first concept to the Rocket City. Since then, they have taken us on new culinary adventures with their popular Neapolitan pizza joint, Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza, and a new backyard southern barbecue place, Bark & Barrel (formally Clyde’s BBQ).
Both have pushed the envelope when it comes to creativity and excellence, proving once and for all that Huntsville is not only known for its space exploration but its delicious local cuisine as well.
Now, Stan and Tina have taken on a new challenge—a self-serve beer and wine bar situated in the heart of Downtown Huntsville. Drawn to the concept because of its simplicity and customer-driven selections, the two opened the Self Serve Drinkery in a perfect spot to capture the neighborhood’s lunchtime and late-night clientele.
(Self Serve Drinkery originally opened its doors on March 14th. They are currently closed but will resume business after current pandemic conditions are lifted and patrons can safely gather inside the shop. Stay tuned to their social media page for updates.)
“There’s so much foot traffic Downtown and it’s a phenomenon we didn’t see three or four years ago,” said Stan. “With our location, we will be able to serve different crowds throughout the day. At lunch, people going on break or coming from the courthouse can swing by and grab a soda and a slice of pizza. Nighttime will be when nearby residents and visitors can enjoy beer or wine in a purple cup, order a sandwich to go, and walk around the entertainment district. We’re excited about this concept!”
Selections vary greatly and Stan said the team put a lot of thought into providing the right mix of national, regional, and local beers. Within the first 12 taps, guests can find more well-known national and international flavors like Samuel Adams and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Row two highlights more local choices from places like Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, and Blue Pants Brewery.
“Self Serve Drinkery allows guests to sample and pour their own beer or wine,” explained Stan. “An RFID wristband on each customer tracks selections and ounces dispensed for a seamless experience. Our walls are lined with 24 types of beers and four wines—two chilled and two at room temperature. We also sell pizza by the slice, hot sandwiches, and sodas, which makes for a delicious quick-bite experience.
Thanks to Stan and Tina’s culinary backgrounds, they’ve taken care of choosing more high-end wines that pair perfectly with pizza and hot sandwiches. Cold sodas and water are also on hand.
A Perfect Quick-Bite In Downtown
When the ownership duo was asked how and why they decided to bring the drinkery to life, they said past travels had a lot to do with its creation.
“Tina and I traveled to Las Vegas to attend the International Pizza Expo, which is one of the largest restaurant shows in the world,” shared Stan. “We saw several ideas that we wanted to bring back to Huntsville but the appeal of a self-pour station stuck with us. The simplicity of the concept puts the power in the customer’s hands. Guests can sample an ounce or two of a beer before pouring a whole serving, meaning they aren’t stuck paying for something they don’t like. Wristbands make the process smart and controlled with computer algorithms and guests don’t have to wait in line. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Best of all, pouring a perfect pint has never been easier. All tap streams have been slowed down to 50 percent their normal rate so guests can control foam and output. Once you’ve reached your allotted ounces per purchase, you can return your bracelet or reuse it on your next visit. Each wristband has a $5 deposit that is refunded once returned.
“We wanted the drinkery to be customer-driven,” said Stan. “Selections will be rotated to include seasonal beers and we will have a ‘customers’ choice’ tap. Polls on social media each month will ask visitors to vote on which beer they’d like to have at the shop. If there’s a selection that people really want to drink, I’d be silly to not give it to them. I hope our patrons voice their opinions and let us know which beers they prefer.”
“Right now, one of the best-selling beers is the Blood Orange Berliner-Weisse from Goat Island Brewing in Cullman,” he said. “We have that one, as well as one of my favorite beers from Michigan—New Holland Dragon’s Milk.”
New York-Style Slices And Sandwiches
Earth & Stone has been a staple in Huntsville and Madison for a while, serving inventive and delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. Toppings range from pepperoni, sausage, and bacon on their “Porkalicious” pizza to sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and Humble Heart Farm’s goat cheese on The Latham pizza.
But slices at Self Serve Drinkery will be a little different.
“We will have eight or ten-inch slices of pizza prepared at Earth & Stone, but they will be New York style,” explained Stan. “They are big, floppy pieces you can hold with one hand. The crust is thicker and has more body to it. Add a soda to your order and it’s like something you’d grab in Times Square during your lunch break.”
As far as toppings go, there will be three or four set choices that will rotate. Favorites like classic pepperoni and cheese will always be available, and there’s a vegetarian option that Stan particularly loves.
“Our spinach and ricotta pizza with white sauce is exceptional,” assured Stan. “It’s very creamy and is a great choice for pairing with wine.”
A few hot sandwiches are also on the menu. These include an Italian pastrami with pepperoni, salami, and ham that’s been cured and smoked in-house at Bark & Barrel. They will also have a traditional Cuban sandwich.
“Our menu will be fairly set but specials will arise,” said Stan. “We may have some pastrami ready to go at Bark & Barrel and serve up a new sandwich for guests to try. The best way to know what’s available is to follow us on all of our social media channels—Earth & Stone, Bark & Barrel, and the Self Serve Drinkery.”
A Casual Night Out
Self Serve Drinkery isn’t strictly grab-and-go. Inside, patrons will find limited seating where they can enjoy a drink and hot slice of pizza while conversing with friends.
“We have a few tables outside on the sidewalk too,” said Stan. “It’s a spot with a great vibe. You can sit under the lights on Clinton Avenue and savor your pizza while the traffic goes by. You’ll get great local food, beer, and atmosphere. When our city’s musicians are able to perform Downtown again, you will probably be able to hear them without moving from your seat.”
Stan said that if he were visiting the Self Serve Drinkery as a customer, he’d grab his favorite pint of Dragon’s Milk stout along with a slice of pepperoni pizza as he watched the sunset on Clinton. Sounds wonderful!
“Once the current situation passes and it’s business as usual, we will open our doors again,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming some of our regulars to our newest concept and say hello to new faces. Our passion is making people happy with excellent food and drink.”
In the meantime, you can eat all the Earth & Stone pizza that you desire thanks to curbside pickup and delivery options at both the Huntsville and Madison locations. Bark & Barrel in Madison is also open and ready to serve at its drive-thru window.
Remember, Bark & Barrel will open its second location at the Stovehouse Food & Leisure Garden later this year!
Hours At The Drinkery
Once open, the Self Serve Drinkery will operate Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. They will be closed on Sundays.
Again, the drinkery is currently closed but will reopen once the current pandemic conditions are lifted and guests can gather safely inside.
For the latest updates, follow Self Serve Drinkery on Facebook!
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