Eloise Crow and her husband, Joe Crow, owned the Crow’s Nest, which occupied the space from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. She grew up nearby and was sad to learn the restaurant had been torn down.
“I lived two doors up from L&S, and I have a lifetime of memories there,” said Crow, whose daughter-in-law, Stephanie Wilbourn, helped her run the diner. “We put a lot of hard work and tears into that restaurant, and there was a lot of work to do in there when we first opened. I didn’t think I was going to make it but I loved it and everyone loved it.”
Eloise said the restaurant, which also featured four outdoor gasoline pumps, served country-style food, including a specialty item that she never found appetizing but would bring in diners from throughout the area. In the first five years, breakfast, lunch and dinner were served but she dropped dinner service because it required being open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“Once a month we had chitlin’ suppers,” she said. “I never could eat them, but we had a lot of people who ate them. It was sad to see it (the restaurant) go down because it served a lot of people in its day.”
After Crow’s Nest closed its L&S location, Wilbourn opened Stephanie’s Diner, which she ran for several years until closing in the mid-2000s.
Crow described Wilbourn as “my right arm, my right leg, my right everything” when they operated Crow’s Nest together. Stephanie’s Diner buffet cook Christa Crabtree said Wilbourn was a well-liked owner by both the employees and customers.
The diner also served country-style cooking and brought in extra customers on the days when specials were available.
“I’d go in the mornings and I could basically cook what I wanted to,” Crabtree said. “There was always some type of beans, plus we would have sweet potatoes, okra and turnip greens. We had a crowd when we had chicken and dressing and pork chops.”
Crabtree said the diner brought in a mixture of court employees, hospital workers and law-enforcement officers, including Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely and slain Athens Police Officer Tony Mims, 40, who was ambushed along with Athens Police Sgt. Larry Russell, 42, during a call on Jan. 2, 2004.
“I remember Tony coming in and we would joke around and agree that teenagers should be put in cages until they turn 30 because we both had kids that age,” she said.