Floyd Owens bought the old station back in 1967 and turned it into something new. He started a restaurant to serve the folks coming across the old Benjamin G. Humphries Bridge from Greenville. Ten years later he turned it over to Gene and Juanita Grassi, who would run it for thirty years. They served a mean steak… and they added some other ideas too, ranging from catfish to Mexican fare to the Italian dishes popular in the area.
The Grassis decided to retire in 2007, and handed the reigns over to Charles Faulk and his family. Sadly, six months later the place burned out. That didn’t deter the Faulks, who dove into the task of rebuilding it bigger and better. And since reopening in November 2008, the place has flourished.
The real winner for me, though, was the Eggplant Parmesan. I’ve had the Italian restaurant equivalent time and time again and been either just satisfied or disappointed. This, though, was almost an eggplant lasagna with well-baked eggplant slices between the layers of ricotta and mozarella cheese and a sweet and chunky tomato sauce. It wasn’t just fork-tender; it was press-down-with-your-finger-and-cut-it tender. And it was delightful.
Now, you are probably wondering how we could go to a place like The Cow Pen and not order a steak. Well of course I have tried the steak at the Cow Pen. How could I not. While I typically go for the traditional sirloin, the restaurant's oversized 16-19 ounce ribeye is pretty good, and its Cow Pen Special (same steak but marinated in the house special sauce) is singular. There are some who swear by the 12-14 ounce filet as the best you'll find anywhere, but I have yet to spend the $50 to get it.
You shouldn't miss The Cow Pen. It's on the right before you go over the new US 82 Bridge. Give it a shot. Any Tuesday through Saturday night (or any Sunday lunch) you may chance and see Big Charles and Teresa, Little Charles and Lydia, Ed, Cookie, Angela, Jose, Bill or Sue Anne. Everyone’s on a first name basis and you might as well be home.
For more information, head over to The Cow Pen's website.