When Wild Willy's Rock House & Sports Saloon opened in Annapolis last year, it promised to be the wildest party in town.
In the promo pictures, waitresses wore microscopic tops and jean shorts, holding on to pool cues and flashing come-hither looks. Called the Wild Girls, they sometimes performed choreographed dance routines on the bar's two stages.
Willy's looked like it came out of "Coyote Ugly," or in a more familiar analogy for Baltimore readers, like the spawn of PBR Baltimore and Angels Rock Bar.
I've been dying to go. Vampy waitresses and dance routines? Try and hold me back. But all my expectations faded after two recent visits. The Wild Girls performances have been discontinued. The waitresses and bar staff were inattentive. And, by 11:30 on a Thursday night, the bar was not so wild. If I had to go by the crowd there, I'd say Willy was in a stupor, lazily counting the minutes until last call.
The owners still have an ample and well-outfitted space to work with, but they're going to need to make some improvements. For now, it's only a worthy destination for pool lovers in Annapolis.
Though located near the clean-cut Annapolis Towne Center, Wild Willy's looks a little like Patrick Swayze's "Road House." The bar is as spacious as the lumber department at Home Depot; almost 10,000 square feet, according to its website.
It is dimly lit, save for the lights above the bar's six pool tables and the reflection from the scores of large-screen TVs — all inaudible under a looping soundtrack of classic rock and billiard balls smashing into each other. The number of pool tables is by far the bar's best feature.
At the center of this hangar is the bar, a sticky, narrow inlet that must be as long as a bowling lane. There are several high-top tables and arcade machines on one side of the bar and on the other, back-to-back pool tables. There is also a DJ booth — the bar has Friday night "Country Rock Ladies Nights" — and a couple of stages.
The bar hosts live music several times during the week; Devin Allman, Greg Allman's son, performed there in early July.
The bar's other prominent feature are five, wall-to-wall, jumbo-sized TV screens, each simultaneously broadcasting something different. On a recent visit, one had a baseball game, another an episode of "Shark Week" where a young lady's chewed-off arm Jackson Pollock-ed the screen red.
Service, however, was as lively as it is during the graveyard shift at a 7-Eleven. On my first visit, it took a lifetime for one of the bartenders to acknowledge me, even though the bar was not busy. When I asked for a menu, my bartender, a blonde with a braid across her head, gave it to the guy next to me, who had actually asked for a lottery ticket. On my second visit, I got my Shock Top sooner, but both times, bartenders failed to check back in with me. They seemed to gravitate toward regulars.
Credit where credit is due: The chicken tenders I ordered on my first visit were perfectly fried; unfortunately, they were only four and they cost a whopping $8. And the kitchen closes at 11 p.m.
On both nights, the bar lacked a pulse; most people congregated around the pool tables. On tap, Wild Willy's has few options, too: Just six brands offered in 12- and 22-ounce glasses; Sam Adams and Anheuser-Busch's Shock Top ($5) is what passes for craft here.
Wild Willy's is a highly unpretentious bar, the kind of place people go to let their hair and their standards down. There's always a place for bars like this. But while we're there relaxing, we should expect the staff to be at their most alert.
While pool lovers in Annapolis may find it worthwhile, Wild Willy's is now the kind of bar where you find yourself looking at Yelp to see what else is nearby.
If you go
Back story: Located at the Annapolis Towne Center, near a Whole Foods and a Target, Wild Willy's replaced bar TK Sharky's in fall 2010. Owner Willy Koutroumpis renovated the bar and added a rock 'n' roll theme. The bar hosts live music on a weekly basis. It is said to have the largest projection screen in Annapolis, which spans the entire length of the back stage.
Parking: Available by Wild Willy's, and in nearby parking lot.
Drinks: Six beers on tap: Stella Artois, Sam Adams Lager, Bud Light, Coors Light, Shock Top and Miller Light. There are 21 beers by the bottle, including Newcastle and all the expected domestics. Orange and grapefruit crushes and wine are also available.
Where: 2072 Somerville Road, Annapolis
Contact: 410-841-5599; wildwillyssaloon.com
Open: 11:30 a.m-2 a.m. daily; happy hour: 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Price range: Drinks cost between $4.50 and $8. During happy hour, small drafts are $2.75 and premiums are in the $4-$5 range. The best special is on Wednesday: free pool from 5 p.m. to close.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun