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the recovery room
by Cody Moore, photography by Amy Long and Kayla Broadway

After years of helping people recover in a medical setting, the Owens family is now expanding its mission with The Recovery Room, a downtown destination for live music and culinary delights with a modern but cozy vibe.

Dr. Ben Owens Jr. works as a physician at St. Bernards Clopton Clinic, while his wife, Tracy, serves as the director of faculty development at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Ben’s sister, Nancy Owens, works as a trainer and group fitness leader at St. Bernards Health & Wellness Institute.

While the Owenses stay busy with their careers in education, medicine and health and fitness, they also have a passion for food, hospitality and local music. In fact, it was over many Sunday dinners that the idea for The Recovery Room was born.

“We have always been musicians and loved the idea of a place where you could just hang out and play music,” said Nancy. “That led to what kind of food we might want to eat while hanging out, and once we found our chefs, the menu and restaurant really expanded. We like to think of ourselves as a relaxed, pleasant place where you want to linger with your coffee and pastry, have a hearty sandwich or soup for lunch or join your friends for dinner or music on the weekend.”

The modern yet warm design of The Recovery Room adds to the unique appeal of Downtown Jonesboro, and Ben believes that it is the perfect location for the family’s latest venture.

“I love downtown,” he said. “I own several buildings, including this one. Downtown has great architecture and a growing community of neighbors who want to live, work and enjoy downtown.  Parking and walking along the sidewalks, looking in the shop windows – it’s away from the congested areas of town. Being downtown makes you want to slow down and take it all in.

“…I think anyone who opens a restaurant wants to fill a need. For us, we want to be a good downtown neighbor and a good addition to the services already provided by the other restaurants and shops downtown, to Jonesboro and to the Main Street community.”

With Ben’s personal background in music as a guitar player, he wanted to provide downtown with another space for local musicians to express themselves and unwind through music.


“When Ben first started talking about what to do with the space, he knew he wanted to have music,” said Tracy. “He is a true supporter of young musicians and their talents. Providing food just seemed like the obvious next step. The Recovery Room concept has been through multiple drafts, and we’re pleased with how it’s shaping up.”

The Recovery Room is an American-style restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and thrives on giving its customers a family-like experience as soon as they walk in the door, with handmade entrees, homemade desserts and locally-roasted coffee.

The chefs at The Recovery Room change the menu weekly, introducing new dishes for newcomers and regulars alike. With options like the house cured beef Rueben with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on fresh rye bread, and the Spicy Italian, consisting of layers of spicy salami, pepperoni and provolone cheese with sliced pepper rings and basil garlic mayo, lunch breaks have never been more satisfying.

Customers seeking an upscale dinner destination can enjoy the gourmet creations of Chef Katie Castleberry and Chef Jackie Brooks, who offer dishes such as Crab Stuffed Chicken, stuffed with lump crab and fresh béchamel sauce, and the delectable Prime Rib, herb encrusted slow roasted angus beef cooked to perfection and served with au jus and creamy horseradish sauce.

“I don’t do much cooking, but I enjoy good food,” said Ben. “We are fortunate to have two chefs working for us. … Both of them are very talented and bring unique culinary experiences to the table. Katie’s homemade Creamy Mushroom Chicken is a favorite of mine, and Jackie’s hot scones with some (Old Pine Coffee Roasters) Loblolly coffee in the morning is really good, too.”

When Brooks was in the military, he traveled to places such as Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where he studied the cuisine closely. He had his own restaurant in his hometown of Kennett, Mo., but he wanted to go somewhere where his flavorful food could excel. Today, Brooks uses what he learned overseas in the meals he creates at The Recovery Room to bring different, innovative flavors to Downtown Jonesboro.

“In Kennett, there wasn’t much of a dining culture; here there is. … I can expand my creativity and create so many dishes,” said Brooks. “It could be any given night, and you could come in and get something from India, something from China or something from France. Like (with) our filet; we do that with Roquefort blue cheese and satay shiitake mushrooms. … I’m always thinking of food. I don’t even consider this a job, this is just what I love to do.”

Along with offering chef-inspired dishes in-house, the Owenses are dedicated to providing local fares at their café, including robust coffee made by Thomas Dominguez of Old Pine Coffee Roasters.

“As we began to work through our ideas for The Recovery Room, we knew we wanted to use as many local people and products as we could,” said Ben. “Dominguez roasts the beans right here in Jonesboro, so we know we are able to offer the freshest coffee. You can also buy Old Pine Coffee by the cup or by the bag in our shop. We are happy to grind it for you in-store.”

Those with a sweet tooth will be pleased with The Recovery Room’s dessert options. The menu can include anything from a Belgian S’more Waffle, creme brulee, Italian Cream Cake, homemade scones and dessert bars.

“I can also do savory scones, which can include sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and spinach,” said Brooks. “Even bacon cheddar scones. It’s endless. I told Tracy that we were going to have to have an EMT on hand. … People are going to be falling out of their chairs because of how good the food is.”

For an ever-changing gourmet menu, local music and ambient atmosphere, the Owenses invite local residents to visit The Recovery Room to unwind and recuperate from everyday stress. Special events planned for the holidays include a holiday cabaret with Nancy Owens and special guest Matt Cavenaugh on Dec. 15. Reservations are recommended.

Located at 223 S. Main St., The Recovery Room is open Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To stay up-to-date on weekly menu changes, pastries and performance announcements, visit The Recovery Room on Facebook.