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Stave & Still brings a bit of Bourbon Street to Webster

By Janet Stoica

Jessica Valby and her husband, Craig, who is also the restaurant’s general manager, have put together an attractive, classy, and relaxing dining establishment that reflects their past career strengths.

“We are avid whiskey, bourbon, and rye connoisseurs and you will find that our cocktail and meal menus are a reflection of this,” said Ms. Valby. “All the menu items are crafted with fresh ingredients and will reflect the varied and complex fruitiness of summer, fall, winter, and spring seasons.”

The aptly named new venture Stave & Still opened earlier this month at 131 Main Street in Webster.

Ms. Valby’s background includes managing at several independent beach hotels in Florida, the last of which was in West Palm Beach. She also successfully ran marketing and event programs for the state of Florida and has extensive experience in the beverage industry.  Mr. Valby has wide-ranging experience in craft spirit festivals.

“Originally, I was going to establish this site as a craft bar,” said Jessica, “but the decision was made to expand into food and beverage pairings.  This place was built on what Craig and I enjoy, and Webster Town Administrator Doug Willardson saw our vision and the longevity that we anticipate.”

Jessica is the daughter of Joseph Waskiewicz of JV Mechanical Contractors of Webster and sister of Victor Waskiewicz, president of JV Mechanical Contractors. She is a graduate of Marianapolis Preparatory School, Thompson, Conn., and Anna Maria College in Paxton.

The Valbys and their construction team have exposed the interior building’s original brick walls and used barnboard-like planks to assemble a beautiful copper-topped bar. Jessica antiqued the large mirrors behind the bar area for an added flair. Touches of industrial style complement the textured dining chairs and velvet sofas. The vintage sepia-toned photos that adorn the walls are conversation starters. Large whiskey barrels with glass tops serve as high-seated tables.

Acknowledging the current pandemic health situation, indoor seating for 46 is in accordance with social distancing requirements. A fenced outdoor seating area hosts entertainment on weekend evenings.

If former Webster Selectman Mark Dowgiewicz’s idea for additional liquor permits for restaurants willing to locate to the town’s west side in order to rejuvenate the Main Street required any proof of success, he need look no further than the Stave & Still.

Owner Jessica Valby agrees that the liquor permit was a positive for her choice of the 131 Main Street location, formerly the home of Choice1Graphics and Bolio’s Sporting Goods.

“We are not overselling ourselves,” says Ms. Valby. “We’re offering southern hospitality and look forward to welcoming our new guests. Without our guests, we wouldn’t be here. Either my husband or I are always here.”

She explains that the dining menu is “based on my own creations that I feel are innovative and detail-oriented, like our Bourbon Cowboy. Our crab cakes have absolutely no filler. We want you to taste the crab, pure and simple.

“We want to be part of the community and strive to be different. Our goal is to ensure that every patron is comfortable here.”

The lunch menu offerings include a French dip sandwich of thinly sliced prime rib with onions and melted gruyere cheese served with au jus; a little Italy sandwich filled with Genoa salami, capicola, smoked ham, provolone, and tomato; and a grilled chicken breast with avocado, heirloom tomato, garlic, and Boursin parmesan spread along with fresh salad choices.

Evening bites consist of a fresh charcuterie board of assorted meats, cheeses, organic clover honey, candied nuts, and artisanal crackers; shrimp cocktail; and mac & cheese of the moment.

Larger entrees are chicken cordon bleu, BBQ pulled pork, and the aforementioned Bourbon Cowboy, a whiskey-glazed tenderloin with brown sugar peach chutney and bourbon Brussel sprouts.

Hand-crafted cocktails come with appealing titles to match their ingredients, such as a smoked old fashioned of bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters, orange, luxardo cherries, and maple smoke or the queen mum composed of bitter truth rose gin, rose bubbles, and sweet lemon.

Of course, there is a full complement of name-brand liquors to choose from in making your usual favorite libation.

Desserts range from the cookie monster stuffed chocolate chip cookie with cookie dough ice cream to the root beer float of locally sourced vanilla ice cream, root beer, and rebel yell root beer whiskey.

Sunday brunch offers the quiche of the moment to avocado toast and poached eggs to cinnamon roll waffles. There is a nice selection of wines and seltzers to choose from as well.

Even their phone number reflects an event: (508) 943-1933 with 1933 being the year that Prohibition was repealed.  Stave and Still is at 131 Main Street, Webster. Hours: Tues-Thurs 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri/Sat 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. brunch only.