Country Boy Sandwich (above)

story and photography by Nikola Tzenov

The Local Motive Brings a New Culinary Adventure to Sykesville

Tyler and Colleen Wittig worked together at Market Tavern for over six years, but when the pandemic complicated things, they began laying out the early plans for a restaurant of their own. They had menu ideas, decor concepts, and a space planned out at Tyler’s parents’ old house. But Market Tavern eventually closed, and when the old dining space they were familiar with became available, the couple moved full speed ahead with their idea for The Local Motive.

“It’s been cool to see our old regulars coming in,” Colleen said, “but also plenty of new faces. It’s nice to be part of Sykesville’s growth.”

The cocktail bar opened in January in the former Market Tavern space. Tyler’s younger brother, Mike, came on board to help remodel and transform the space.

Every wall got a facelift: live plants, brighter colors, bricks, murals, and a new back bar and tap system with 12 taps, offering a mix of cocktails and a rotation of local beers. Mike now runs the night shift.

The Local Motive offers simple bar food — sandwiches, tapas-style appetizers, salads, and a kids menu. But don’t let their limited selection deter you. Every dish is prepared fresh, and many feature local ingredients. Tyler’s favorite is the Mezze Plate. Built to be shared, it features garlic olive oil hummus, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, tzatziki, feta cheese, pita bread, marinated olives, and dolmas. Pair it with a Smoked Old-Fashioned cocktail to complete the experience.

Korean BBQ Sandwich with
Sticks and Stones Cocktail

The sandwiches are definitely worth a look. The Country Boy features lettuce, tomato, mayo, honey ham, and Tyler’s house-made pimento cheese — all piled on toasted sourdough bread. If you prefer a hot sandwich, try the Korean BBQ. With pulled pork smothered in sauce, house-made Korean slaw with green onions and sesame seeds, this sandwich is absolutely packed with flavor. Grab a Local Motive Lager (a private label created in collaboration with 1623 Brewing) or ask for a Sticks and Stones, a smooth bourbon-based drink with aperitivo, amaro, and lemon.

If you’re looking for something lighter, order a fresh and customizable house salad with mixed greens, creamy Italian dressing, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, salami, mozzarella, and parmesan — top it off with grilled chicken, roast pork, chicken salad or falafel to round out the dish.

The Local Motive has over 100 different whiskeys to choose from. They have a variety of wines and beers, too, but they pride themselves on their unique cocktails. Many of their drinks feature a floating piece of dried fruit.

Mike, Tyler, Coleen, & Juniper Wittig

“Dehydrated fruit elevates the cocktail flavor,” Mike said. “We dehydrate our own fruit, and we squeeze our own juices and make our own syrups, too.”

Take a seat at the bar for a friendly chat and to sample a few cocktail choices, such as Purple Rain — a traditional whiskey sour with butterfly pea flower tea syrup, which gives it a vibrant purple appearance. Be sure to throw in one of their popular soft pretzels, served with beer cheese, whole-grain mustard, and crisp delicious sweet and spicy pickles from Sykesville’s DC Dills.

For the truly adventurous, visit The Local Motive on Sundays and check out their brunch menu, which offers specialty cocktails, quiche, and boozy cereal — yes, you read that correctly. Colleen describes the offering as “iconic name-brand childhood cereals served in a specially paired milk-based cocktail served with a color-changing spoon.” It may sound strange, but she promises they’re very good and quite popular.

The Local Motive offers happy hours, live music and — if all goes according to Tyler’s plan — will soon have a darts league on Tuesdays. Learn more at