A Scoop of Joy - Stam's Luncheonette
By Manning Lee | Photos by Pamela L. Cowart-Rickman
For over a century on High Street in Chestertown sat Stam Drugs. Generations came to know it as the best place in town to get a cherry coke or a scoop of ice cream. How many generations of kids experienced their first bouts with brain-freeze while sitting at the counter there? We won’t ever know, even if Stam’s was an iconic hangout for so many generations. Sadly, Stam Drugs closed its doors in 2016. It was the end of an era.
Not long afterwards, an investor purchased the building and began making plans for a complete renovation. The new owner knew the town wanted a sort of food or ice cream shop. Quite serendipitously, Neyah White, a native of Chestertown, moved back to town with his wife, Brandywine, from San Francisco to fulfill a life dream of creating and opening just such a shop.
That was the inception of Stam’s Luncheonette that would join the nostalgia of the past Stam Drugs with Brandywine White’s vision of what a lunch counter experience could be. They worked towards the opening in Spring 2020, but due to widespread shutdowns, they opened in June 2020.
“We did a lot of research on what soda fountains looked like at the turn of the century. We referenced photos of the building’s interior and exterior. Although we were not able to find the exact replicas of everything, we were inspired by them and are happy with what we have built. Additionally, I loved white marble countertops with a fresh, clean look that reminded me of old-fashioned lunch counters. That’s the feeling we’re trying to replicate,” Brandywine White explained.
With so much effort placed into the design of the actual building, White’s challenge was to create menu items that would meet expectations. She wanted to offer the lunch counter experience with classic American lunch and breakfast staples with upgraded twists. She wanted them to look like the dishes from traditional lunch counters made with ingredients that appeal to today’s more sophisticated tastes and sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, whenever possible.
The piece de la resistance of Stam’s Luncheonette is its made-in-house ice cream. With her background as a pastry chef, her secret weapons are the ingredients she includes in her ice cream flavors. These ingredients make the ice cream flavors virtually irresistible. If she can bake it, chances are White will add it to ice cream flavors like her brownie batter ice cream and birthday cake ice cream. White has also become quite the copycat. She’s perfected her versions of Oreos, Nutter Butters, Twinkies, and Animal Crackers. She isn’t afraid to use them in her flavors or to build sundaes around them. They are must-haves from the ice cream menu.
“There’s something very satisfying about making these treats from scratch. I make them taste as good as the originals (sometimes even better?) with ingredients that I’m proud of,” said White. “I guess the novelty is that you can see something familiar and then taste something new and delicious,” she explained further.
One of the most popular features that White implemented from the very beginning is the Pint Club. Members get three pints on the second weekend of every month. It comes with two of their current ice cream flavors and then one exclusive pint club flavor. Membership in the Pint Club grants access to the experimental flavors that Stam’s Luncheonette concocts monthly. Some of the exclusive flavors included Mango Pomegranate, Bacon Caramel, Peanut Brittle, and Sunday Morning Waffles. Everyone may join the Pint Club — buyers beware because most members come back for more.
The neon sign on the wall of Stam’s Luncheonette reads, “Our Product is Joy.” It refers to their family and company motto. Whether it is scoops of ice cream shared with friends, a refreshing drink, or a grilled cheese sandwich — it is made with love and care with the primary goal of sparking joy kept in mind. They strive to create a joyful experience that is more than the sum of its parts.