ONE-STOP-TALK

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From 6 Feet and 10 Items to 100 Feet and 50+ Items in 44 Years

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Forty-four years ago on June 15, 1973 a young couple (he was just 19 years old, she just 18) a week after they were married, opened The Country Store in “Benton, R-Kan-Saw.” Once a building for a candy manufacturer, the Store became the home for “Good Country Cookin’.” A year later, seeing the popularity of their six-foot, 10-item buffet, the owners abandoned the Store’s menu items and went totally buffet. Now known as Brown’s Country Store and Restaurant, the buffet is a whopping 100 feet long and features 50+ items.

“My mom and dad have had to expand the building several times,” said April Brown-Rye, the gift shop manager at the store. The buffet is so popular that is has consistently been nominated Best Buffet in the state of Arkansas where, “we’re always a finalist, if not the winner,” said April.

The buffet begins at one end with salads, then soups, then vegetables, then breads and then meats. But wait! There’s more – that special section over there in the corner for desserts that features (among many items) a cheesecake topped with a praline caramel sauce created by April’s mother. Asked about the buffet’s most popular item, April says without hesitation, “Our fried green tomatoes. There’s no secret recipe. We just slice ‘em, bread ‘em and deep-fry ‘em.” Any leftover buffet food is donated to three local charities.

Serving between 500 and 600 customers on weekdays and 1,200 on the weekends, Brown’s is a favorite of truckers nationwide. “In fact, we rent a space next to the restaurant for truck parking,” said April. We’re just off I-30 and truckers can easily pull in and straight out. They don’t have to back up. We do this because truckers are among our most loyal customers.”

Truckers are, in fact, like family as are the employees who work at Brown’s – many for as long as 20 years. “Sometimes truckers don’t have time to stop for the buffet,” said April, “so they honk from the interstate as they go by. They aren’t being mean. They’re just saying ‘Hi!’”

Check out these recipes for some of the buffet’s popular items:

 Praline Caramel Sauce

½ cup           butter

½ cup          whipping cream

1 ½ cup       brown sugar

¼ cup           coarsely chopped pecans

2 T              corn syrup

In saucepan melt butter, stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, cook until sugar is dissolved stirring constantly. Stir in whipping cream and bring to second boil. Remove from hear and stir in pecans. Drizzle over the hot cheesecake. It’s also great over ice cream and pound cake.

Brown’s Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups        sweet potatoes (baked and mashed)

1 cup           white sugar

½ cup          melted butter

2                 eggs, beaten

1 tsp           vanilla

¼ cup          evaporated milk

1 cup           brown sugar

¼ cup          flour

3 Tbsp        melted butter

½ cup          pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix potatoes, white sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and evaporated milk with a hand mixer. Spoon into a 2 qt. casserole dish. In another bowl mix the brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Trace Creek Potatoes (A Local Favorite!)

1 32-oz        package frozen hash brown potatoes

½ cup          melted butter

1 10 ½ -oz   can of cream of chicken soup, undiluted

12-oz          grated American cheese

8-oz            sour cream

1 tsp           salt

¼ tsp           pepper

½                small onion, chopped

2 cups         crushed cornflakes

½ cup          melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place thawed potatoes in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Mix together next 7 ingredients and pour over potatoes. Top with crushed cornflakes and melted butter.

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Brown’s still sells homemade candy: 12 different cream-and-butter fudges and 20 hand-dipped chocolates.

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Brown’s Buffet Yesterday

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Brown’s Buffet Today

 

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