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The Island Cow: a Family-type Place That Just Keeps Growing

Jan 26, 2018 10:31AM ● Published by Kevin

Photo courtesy of The Island Cow on Facebook.

Resting on four acres of Sanibel Island land, The Island Cow operates out of a steel-frame shack built in 1951, and that's just one of many quirky things about this 17-year-old island staple.

"It certainly has its own flavor," said owner Brian Podlasek. "We travel around, go to strange places, and want to remember. So, we bring it back!"

Podlasek owns the spot with his wife, Elke. As you peruse the popular breakfast spot, which was named one of the top five breakfast places in all of Florida by Southern Living, you'll quickly begin to notice its interesting decor.

An old pair of skis? Podlasek will screw them to the ceiling. His neighbor's daughter's bright pink snowboard? He screwed that to the back door by the waiting area.

"It started to become what my workshop and garage looks like," he said, also noting his affinity for Bigfoot. "Don't ask me why." Even the shack's website is filled with puns.

"From our signature homemade muffins and large menu, to our a-moo-sing decor and indoor/outdoor dining concept, you’ll clearly see why we are continuously voted the Island’s best Lunch and Family Dining experience on the island for 10 years and counting," the website says.

Why "The Island Cow?" A tribute to his father. "My dad always had a family home up in Wisconsin so we've got a thing with cows. i like cows. we ride horses and stuff out there. Wisconsin cow thing, they're peaceful."

The shack was built by the Kirkpatrick family, which arrived via aircraft and brought all sorts of stuff in, like cars and boats. People and families used to live on the property, itself, prior to the Cow's existence. The back end is used for playing games and children's activities.

Podlasek describes his restaurant as a "family/whatever type of place." As for the food, the menu keeps growing, mostly on what people want. Patrons are encouraged to create their own dishes, which Chef "Big Juan" will cook up. Folks can even bring in their own fish for him to cook.

"If it stays in the top 10 out of 300 items then it stays on the menu. so come up with something!" Podlasek said. "My neighbor, Kim, came up with an omelet, wanting something low fat, and we made up an omelet for her."

The best day of the year for The Cow is Christmas, Podlasek reported. In just one day, 1,600 people come to eat. "Waiting is half the fun," Podlasek said, noting that guests typically grab a drink and play a round of cornhole.

Outside of that, business is pretty steady. Podlasek joked, "It's the most money you can make with your clothes on." He added that it's a fun work environment and a silly business. "You have to be crazy to get into it." To date, they've served more than 5 million customers in 17 years.

All in all, there are 62 employees at The Cow, some of which are second-generation crew members. Half, Podlasek said, have been with the establishment for at least 10 years.

"You got to have the right flow and the right people to make it work," he said. "We've got some great managers, people."

The Island Cow is located at 2163 Periwinkle Way. For more information, visit the website, call 239-472-0606, or Like them on Facebook.
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    The Cape Coral Farmers’ Market is located in downtown Cape Coral at the intersection of S.E. 47th...


  • Bonita Springs Farmers Market

    03/03/2018
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    Join us every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon through April 28th on the west side of the parking lot...


  • 81st annual Shell Festival

    03/03/2018
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    The House flings wide its doors (and grounds) for the 81st annual Shell Festival on Thursday, Mar...


  • The workshop is designed to give students a way to better understand how to draw the figure. W...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Our Top Rated Fine Art and Fine Craft Festivals are rated #2 in the Nation by sources ranking the...


  • Nature Hike

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Join a park naturalist for a walk on the Nature Trails of Koreshan State Historic Site. Learn som...


  • Join the community on Saturday, March 3 from 10am-3pm for a day of art in Rubicond Park at the Ca...


  • In this inventive and highly theatrical adaptation, join Peter and Lucy on their travels to Narni...


  • Seminole Shootout Battle Reenactments and a 5-Star Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) ...


  • Seminole Shootout Battle Reenactments and a 5-Star Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) ...


  • Songwriter Saturdays

    03/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    The hit sounds and hip artists of Nashville are coming to Captiva Island — as 'Tween Waters Islan...


  • Dreams of Nature

    03/03/2018
    02:00PM

    Opening the 2018 Spring Season, is Dreams of Nature, featuring Sir Frederick Ashton’s triumphant ...


  • Wicked Dolphin Distillery Tour

    03/03/2018
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    We will take you through the steps of how we source our ingredients, cook, ferment, distill, in o...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Norma

    03/03/2018
    07:30PM

    In Roman-occupied Gaul, a Druid priestess and a Roman official—Norma and Pollione—have fallen in ...


  • Dreams of Nature

    03/03/2018
    07:30PM

    Opening the 2018 Spring Season, is Dreams of Nature, featuring Sir Frederick Ashton’s triumphant ...


  • Improv Tonight!

    03/03/2018
    08:00PM

    Join us the first Saturday of every month for some of Southwest Florida’s best improvisational co...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/03/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • Sanibel Island Farmer's Market

    03/04/2018
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    The Sanibel Island Farmers Market was established in 2008. It is a favorite outdoor activity for...


  • Our Top Rated Fine Art and Fine Craft Festivals are rated #2 in the Nation by sources ranking the...


  • Manon Lescaut

    03/04/2018
    01:30PM

    Love at first sight strikes the Chevalier Des Grieux and the enchanting Manon Lescaut. They flee ...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/04/2018
    02:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • The environmental center is open to the public Monday-Saturday, from 8am-4pm, unless there is a p...


  • Mondays with Marie

    03/05/2018
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    Local artist, Marie Dyer, teaches a variety of workshops including landscape and silk painting fo...


  • Mondays with Marie

    03/05/2018
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    Local artist, Marie Dyer, teaches a variety of workshops including landscape and silk painting fo...


  • Kid's Cooking Classes

    03/05/2018
    02:30PM — 05:30PM

    Must be at least 8 years old Explore Farm to table cooking Regional specialties & global flavo...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/06/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Surfside Sunset Market

    03/06/2018
    01:00PM — 06:00PM

    The Surfside Sunset Market is located at The Shops at Surfside. From November through April, the ...


  • Wicked Dolphin Distillery Tour

    03/06/2018
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    We will take you through the steps of how we source our ingredients, cook, ferment, distill, in o...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Norma

    03/06/2018
    07:30PM

    In Roman-occupied Gaul, a Druid priestess and a Roman official—Norma and Pollione—have fallen in ...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/06/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • Rotary Club of Bonita Springs: Weekly Meeting

    03/07/2018
    07:00AM — 08:30AM

    Meetings are every Wednesday morning at the Bonita Bay Country Club. Breakfast begins at 7 a.m. a...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/07/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Open Mic Night at The French Press

    03/07/2018
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    Grab your instrument, warm up your voice, Wednesdays from 6:30- 9:30pm.


  • Audubon Society Speaker

    03/07/2018
    06:30PM

    CROW is honored to have the Executive Director of the Florida Audubon society as a special guest ...


  • Carmen

    03/07/2018
    07:30PM

    All-consuming, ill-fated passion rules the tumultuous love of a gypsy and a corporal. Carmen ...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/07/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • Birdwatching

    03/08/2018
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    Each Thursday morning, we offer a walking tour to discover the birds of Sanibel Island's East End...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/08/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • In partnership with the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning, Hodges University is pres...


  • In partnership with the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning, Hodges University is pres...


  • Wicked Dolphin Distillery Tour

    03/08/2018
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    We will take you through the steps of how we source our ingredients, cook, ferment, distill, in o...


  • 14th Annual Magic Under the Mangroves

    03/08/2018
    05:30PM — 09:30PM

    The Conservancy of Southwest Florida will host the 14th annual Magic Under the Mangroves gala din...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Shell Point Retirement Community’s 2017-2018 Concert Series welcomes Southwest Florida Symphony t...


  • Norma

    03/08/2018
    07:30PM

    In Roman-occupied Gaul, a Druid priestess and a Roman official—Norma and Pollione—have fallen in ...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/08/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • The environmental center is open to the public Monday-Saturday, from 8am-4pm, unless there is a p...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/09/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Friday Nine & Dine

    03/09/2018
    03:30PM

    Looking for a fun golf league at a TEE-rific value and the chance to make some new friends this w...


  • Ladies' Night at The Paint Escape

    03/09/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Cape Coral Star Gazing Party

    03/09/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Friday, March 9th, 2018 7pm-10pm Free! No flashlights, please. Join the Southwest Florida ...


  • Carmen

    03/09/2018
    07:30PM

    All-consuming, ill-fated passion rules the tumultuous love of a gypsy and a corporal. Carmen ...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/09/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • The environmental center is open to the public Monday-Saturday, from 8am-4pm, unless there is a p...


  • Downtown Farmers Market

    03/10/2018
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    The Cape Coral Farmers’ Market is located in downtown Cape Coral at the intersection of S.E. 47th...


  • Bonita Springs Farmers Market

    03/10/2018
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    Join us every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon through April 28th on the west side of the parking lot...


  • Community Beach Walk

    03/10/2018
    09:00AM

    Join us for a casual guided beach walk to explore what's washed ashore. Let's talk about some of ...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Nature Hike

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Join a park naturalist for a walk on the Nature Trails of Koreshan State Historic Site. Learn som...


  • Sun Splash Opening Day!

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Slide into the 2018 season with some fun in the sun March 10th from 10am - 5pm!☺️☀️ Enjoy 14-a...


  • In this inventive and highly theatrical adaptation, join Peter and Lucy on their travels to Narni...


  • Wicked Dolphin Distillery Tour

    03/10/2018
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    We will take you through the steps of how we source our ingredients, cook, ferment, distill, in o...


  • The Black Party

    03/10/2018
    05:00PM

    Sarasota's most exciting all-black-attire event returns for it's third installment. On March 10, ...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Tiefland

    03/10/2018
    07:30PM

    Marta is the unwilling mistress of a wealthy landowner, Sebastiano. To keep the poor girl near hi...


  • Northside Hollow

    03/10/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...