BOWIE – The Old Bowie Town Grille offers just about everything restaurant patrons could want—food, entertainment and it offers a gathering place for family and friends to spend time together.
“It’s in an old town area. This kind of place can’t really be duplicated,” said the restaurant’s owner, Bobby Joe Owens said. “What sets it apart from everyone else, aside from the atmosphere and the look and feel, is that we’re a family and friends place. We’re locally owned. My wife and me, we live right across the street.”
Owens and his wife, Theresa, discovered the venue in May 2006 when it was just an abandoned building on the corner of Chestnut Avenue. Owens said he and his wife got his father-in-law to renovate the building. Now, the restaurant is a hit with the locals
“We always try to cater to what’s going on locally,” said Connor McTighe, a host at the restaurant.
Owens said many restaurant chains have lost touch with customer service, so he tries to make sure everyone is treated like they are someone special when they visit Old Bowie Town Grille.
“I can look around the room, and I can tell you if we’ve seen everyone in here before or not,” Owens said. “When somebody comes in we know whether they’re a regular or not. If they’re not, we try to make them feel special so that they feel like they’re apart of the family.”
Everyone is welcome at the restaurant regardless of race, skin color or anything else, Owens said. Instead, he just wants customers to follow three simple rules.
“Have fun, pay your tab, don’t be an asshole,” Owens said. “If you’re an asshole we don’t want you here.”
The menu is filled with variety of meals including Cajun pasta, a classic American Cobb salad and Irish Nachos. But what the locals really enjoy is the Grille’s famous burger—the Old Town Bowie burger.
The Old Town Bowie burger has won the “Best of Prince George’s Best Burger award” and also won a reader’s choice award in 2013.
“Our burger is a good, honest burger,” Owens said. “It’s a half-pound, certified Angus beef on a grill. Our grill just tastes really good.”
Along with the beef, the burger comes with a bevy of different toppings. Customers can add bacon, chili, ham, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, avocado slices, jalapenos and even a fried egg.
The reach of the Old Bowie Town Grille stretches far beyond local confines, Owens said.
“You go upstairs and you’ll see people from everywhere—from Baltimore, D.C, Annapolis, locally,” said Owens. “And then there are people that come from out of town for the jam that we have going on upstairs.”
On “Blues Jam Night” musicians come in for the night and are grouped on a list to play sets together.
“You never know who’s going to show up,” McTighe said. “Some weeks are cooler than others, but one way or another they make sure they play all night. A lot of those guys up there know each other.”
The music starts at 8 p.m. and usually lasts until about 11:30 p.m. according to McTighe. “We get a good thing going for a while there,” McTighe said.
Ruben Odellowictz, a local entertainer who performs at the Grille, said he visits about every five or six weeks.
“I don’t play here often. I live in Fairfax. My friend Rick lives in Beltsville, so when I come over here I stay at his house,” Odellowictz said. ““If I could get over here every week, then I would. But I can’t. That’s too much of a drive.”
Odellowictz played the harmonica for one of the groups. While he was familiar with the other members of the group, he said music helps bring everyone together.
“The piano player and I went to high school together. The other guys, the only way I know any of them is from here,” Odellowictz said. “I think we just have a feel for the type of music. You know, you just get together, and you tell people what key it’s in and the style of music it is. You give them a beat and you go from there.”
The restaurant has live music every Friday and Saturday, according to McTighe, while the blues jams occur once a month on Sunday. Tuesdays are the only day without music.
Open mic nights on Thursdays are currently on a hiatus, McTighe said.
“The Blues Jam is very much open still,” McTighe said. “It’s not really just blues. People do a lot of classic rock covers, all kinds of stuff. So, it’s great.”