In 2016, Meigs County awarded Vera Crow with the Lifetime Business Achievement Award for her work as owner of Pomeroy’s KFC-Long John Silver’s. The restaurant has been in the family for more than 60 years, though it was originally called Crow’s Steak House.
At 92 years old and not even 5-feet tall, Crow’s work ethic is legendary.
“Well, I believe in working, number one,” Crow says in her frank, no-bull tone. “No matter what — you have to work at something. You can’t just sit around and not do anything.”
Crow became the main owner of the restaurant along with son Danny Crow after her husband passed in 1996. She is the only one left of many of her friends — something she is well aware of.
“Yeah, Mom says that a lot these days, ‘I’m the only one left’” her daughter, Debbie Gilkey says.
When you get to be 92 years old, you will have inevitably lost some friends. But it is not inevitable that you will have lived in a town that has lost much of its population and many of its small businesses.
However, Crow is not one to dwell. Many small towns in southeastern Ohio, like Pomeroy, were once centers for booming coal industries that have now ingloriously faded.
Crow’s Early Life in Texas
Crow began her life in rural Texas on a 5,000-acre ranch growing up during the Great Depression. She remembers those hot Texas weekends working on the ranch before she went to college at Southwestern University in Texas.
There, she met her future husband Tom Crow, a World War II navy man. She wasted no time at the university, finishing her degree by age 19.
Once the pair married, they packed up, and traveled back to Ohio. Initially, Crow was not all that impressed with Ohio. Everything is, of course, bigger in Texas, she says, “-cept me! I’m real short, and that’s why they sent me up here.”
Stories from the Employees
The late afternoon work crew is eager to leave their fryers and managerial duties to come share “Vera stories.”
“Well, she’s stubborn, set in her ways, routine,” Debbie Leach says, a 38-year employee. “I remember one time, she’s back there stompin’ her foot and sayin’ ‘I own this place and I do what I want!’”
All the employees start grinning. Everyone wants to tell the next “Vera story.” Crow, unamused, is currently caught up wondering if she should head back to the bank for the second time that day. She always likes to know where her ones and tens are.
Her employees keep on teasing. From cooking to cleaning to counting the drawer, Crow has done it all for her restaurant. Originally a gas station, the Crow family began their restaurant business in 1953 as Crow’s Steak House serving homemade food.
But, in 1960, Colonel Sanders came through the bustling river town peddling his chicken franchise. The Crows accepted this chicken recipe with the condition that they keep the right to serve their homemade food as well. However, in 2003, KFC forced the Crows to build a new KFC-Long John Silver’s that would serve only chain food.
When the homemade food was gone, many of the regular customers left with it. “That was devastating,” Gilkey says. “But you wouldn’t know it from her. Mom is very adaptable. She carries on.”
There is a kindness that has not died in Pomeroy. Crow may have her tough outer layer, but she also has a big, Texas heart.