By Lindsay Seagraves
There was a time when Little Bridge Marina in Rainbow City – situated on quaint but busy Lake Neely Henry and the Coosa River – boasted of cheery boaters and fishermen and served as the area’s primary one-stop boat shop for residents and visitors alike. Today, however, the marina not only boasts of boaters but area diners who value good grub – grub that’s local – at Local Joe’s.
The full-service fuel dock at Little Bridge Marina and the lingering aroma of Local Joe’s smoked meats draw boaters into the slough of white-topped umbrellas and shady porch seating.
Barbeque lovers dine on the 100-seat waterfront patio, and for the time being at least, cannot imagine an atmosphere that parallels. This is because Local Joe’s and Little Bridge Marina bring a paradise of its own that overshadows the live outdoor music and watery views – and that’s the authentic feeling of locality.
The restaurant and marina offer the best of local products, ranging from area-brewed Back Forty beer and draft beer to locally-made honey and popular Frios Pops, the latter which come straight from a Frio’s cooler and pair perfectly with a smoked turkey sandwich.
Local Joe’s owner Jodie Stanfield brought the restaurant waterside on July 15 of last year after partnering with Craig Inzer, Jr., and Curt Vezertzis to own Little Bridge Marina at 70 Whorton Bend Road.
Having been featured in several publications and mentioned on numerous television shows, Local Joe’s also earned the top spot for Best Barbeque Ribs in the region by Birmingham News Readers Choice Awards in 2014.
The business’ original location at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and Rainbow Drive is still operating as a full-functioning restaurant and produce store and still puts out just as many of its famous Local Joe’s pork skins, which can also be found at Little Bridge Marina. The original location houses the preparation for the business’s catering company, which averages about nine catering jobs a week.
“We’re doing tons of catering,” Stanfield said. “We do anything from weddings and luncheons to hospitals and doctor’s offices.”
Local Joe’s also has a rentable banquet facility at Little Bridge Marina called the Lake Room, where companies can host luncheons equipped with a projector and screen for presentations and slideshows.
Stanfield said he’s catered for up to 500 people as far as Birmingham and Guntersville and has a wedding planned for 350 people in June.
“We do anything from finger foods to rehearsal dinners and receptions and we provide the plates and glassware,” he added. “We even recently did a wedding where we changed the lighting around the food to different colors.”
Stanfield employs three chefs – JP Pendergrass, Jamie Hughes and Chris Wood – who collaborate with brides, companies and individuals to cook up more than just BBQ.
“We recently did an event where we served three different types of hummus and flatbread pizzas,” said Stanfield. “We’ve done molecular catering and we also work with local businesses to incorporate their products like King’s Olive Company and its oils and vinegars.”
Stanfield said Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley recently enjoyed a salad with Chef Pendergrass’ homemade vinaigrette made of local Cold Creek honey and King’s Olive Oil vinegar while meeting with members of the Etowah County Chamber of Commerce.
“We use as much local as we can,” he added. “We sell local soap, lip balm, produce, pickles and chow chow and sell Birmingham beer as well as local.”
Perhaps the biggest thing “local” about Local Joe’s and Little Bridge Marina is its willingness to help out its community. With charitable work involving the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, aiding group homes in three counties and hosting fundraisers for multiple area churches, it’s easy to see that Local Joe’s stands behind its name.
“People often think it’s called Local Joe’s because that’s my name, but it’s not. It’s called that because we support the local Joes.”
Local Joe’s at Little Bridge Marina will host a corn hole tournament this Saturday, May 23. To schedule a music lineup, request catering information or find out more about Local Joe’s or Little Bridge Marina, go to www.localjoestradingpost.com, www.littlebridgemarina.com, or visit either Facebook page under Local Joe’s Trading Post or Little Bridge Marina.