Few restaurateurs are lucky enough to establish in a location rich in history and beloved by locals, even fewer have the fortune to create the layout for their new space from the lighting fixtures to the bar layout. Jason Ellis, Corey Ripley, and Richard Sherfey found themselves with just such an opportunity. They wanted to create a space where you can craft a new experience each time you came. Walking around the elegant grounds, you will find areas for quieter conversations or more private dates. With a combination of vintage elegance and modern industrial, the comfort and sophistication lures you in.
The goal was to be both casual and elegant. Upon arriving, the manicured lawn, posh grace of the historic building, and lounging, laughing patrons cannot be ignored. Based on something as simple as the diverse crowd enjoying themselves, it is clear that the vision of which Ellis spoke was achieved.
As far as service is concerned, Ellis stated they, “Strive…to be friendly and accepting to all. [They] like getting around the tables, socializing, and being friends [with the community]. Nobody’s perfect- we are not perfect… but we strive for quality in everything we do.” This includes a hand selected wine and beer list which “changes sometimes even throughout the day,” Ellis said with a laugh. He went on to explain how The Cob & Pen “make [nearly] everything there… from start to finish, we make the bratwursts, sauerkraut, and pickles. What we are not equipped to make we obtain from other local businesses, like Born and Bread and House of Carbs. We think and hope that when you’re there [at The Cob & Pen] you get that experience and can taste that we ‘craft’ and explore everything from start to finish, except maybe the ketchup and mustard!”
Expectations high, I perched with a couple of friends at a long, communal high top table. We started with red wine, a blackberry cider, and a light beer as well as a trio of appetizers to munch while we sipped. We tried the hummus and crackers, poutine, and the millennial favourite of avocado toast. Overall, the mild flavors of the appetizers allowed the drinks to take the spotlight. Along with the second round of drinks- a changeup of a rich chocolate porter and a Pom-e-Cran-It Champagne Cocktail- we ordered dinner. A jalapeño burger, BBQ pork sandwich, and fries with a side of Cob & Pen fry sauce. The jalapeño burger is a bar staple and the fries were beautifully thin and crispy, but the real champion was the BBQ pork sandwich. The pimento cheese and pickles were delicious between a House of Carbs roll.
To get a feel for afternoon service and atmosphere, my best friend and I went back on a Saturday afternoon for a snack and some drinks. We thoroughly enjoyed the special on Champagne Cocktails and delighted in the delicious pimento cheese, crackers, and house pickles. The mood was very casual with a small group playing games out on the lawn, a few people on the patio taking in the Florida sun, and a smattering of people inside having conversations in the various nooks of the bar.
I spoke with Ellis about future plans for The Cob & Pen who said, “We want to be ever primed to evolve and never want to be stagnant or lazy.” Such evolutions to occur are menu changes, reworked desserts, and brunch- something none of the partner-trio have tried to tackle before. An exciting addition to look for in February will be live, local music; as everyone knows how much we Lakelanders love our local music. As far as events go, quarterly The Cob & Pen hosts a not-for-profit event to support local charities. “We love charities and are gearing up to have our quarterly charity event to give back to the community,” said Ellis. I, for one, am looking forward to a bright future for this charming establishment where you can truly craft your own experience.
Cob & Pen
1221 S Florida Ave
Lakeland, FL 33803
Mon-Thurs 4pm - midnight
Fri 4pm - 2am
Sat 11am - 2am
Sun 11am - midnight