Benjamin McGehee, Owner
As the owner and CEO of Benjamin’s Great Cows and Crabs, Benjamin McGehee has become an entrepreneur at the ripe age of just 25 years. The opening of his own restaurant, which just happens to boast his own name, has been a dream since childhood.
With a recognizable last name, Benjamin has deep roots in this town as the McGehee’s have been in this area for over 100 years. It is easy to see how he got the yearning to make his own way by deciding to follow in his family’s footsteps and start a venture on his own as his own parents, Randy and Susan McGehee, did with the former Reams Furniture Company.
Starting as a dishwasher at a local restaurant at age sixteen, Benjamin began learning the food service industry from the lowest ranks. After training under three different Executive Chefs, he moved up through the cook positions until eventually evolving into Kitchen Manager. Under this title, he obtained the responsibilities of hiring, supervising, waste control, inventory management, ordering and food cost. Benjamin was also able to learn the ” front of the house ” by serving as a waiter and bartender during his five year tenure.
After graduating from Jefferson Forest High School in 1995, Benjamin went on to attend Liberty University. In 2000, he graduated from Liberty where he earned a degree in Marketing.
Benjamin joined NTS Marketing as Director of Operations after graduation. Although he was successful in his chosen field for over three years, the passion he had for the culinary arts was leading him in a different direction.
After much thought and deliberation, Benjamin decided to strike out on his own and open his own restaurant. The opening of Benjamin’s Great Cows and Crabs in October 2002 was truly a labor of love. Many months were put into getting the restaurant into shape, with cleaning, organizing and decorating. With the help of his family, the restaurant began to look like a first class establishment. With a rustic but casual atmosphere, Benjamin has made his place somewhere that would welcome families as well as couples out on the town.
Benjamin is truly the epitome of a young entrepreneur who sports the class, knowledge and experience of a gentleman many years his senior. He has proven that dreams do come true in a big way and he has just begun.
Sam, also known as Samwah, Big & Tender, Hushpuppy, Slick Sam-stylie, True Grit, and Green Eggs & Sam, has been working for his brother since he was just a wee lad. Sam originally never wanted to work in a restaurant but was forced into it by his mother and father who could no longer stand his outlandish behavior at home. Yet after working in his brother’s kitchen for about two years, Sam decided to leave school, dropping out after 4th grade and never returning, and pursue his talents at the culinary arts. After showing signs of promise, Sam was sent to work at Smith Mountain Lake (mostly because of an ongoing feud with the front-of-the-house manager that was sure to end in a manslaughter charge had Sam stayed) to polish up on his leadership skills and, apparently, his way with the ladies. While extremely versatile and creative, Sam’s favorite dishes to prepare are toast, bacon-fried chicken nuggets, and cubed ham. When not at work, Sam can be found on the farm where, after nearly 10 years out of school, he is showing a revived interest in chemistry, botany, earth sciences, and home economics. His favorite beer is Fat Tire and his most memorable moment is “getting the milky”.
John Michael McGehee
The youngest and most handsome of the McGehee brothers, Young Guns as we call him, has been a bit of a mystery to the family at Benjamin’s. Originally, it seemed as if a kitchen were the absolute last place on Earth he wanted to be. His young, curious mind often wondered and was on other things as steaks burned behind him, french fries went from golden to black, and salads were left undone to the dismay of the perpetually impatient and rude waitstaff. Yet some time during the end of his high-school career (a career marred by frequent absences, poor grades, and too many altercations with teachers to even try to estimate) it seemed as if the young child became a young man and began down the path of becoming a respectable cook. Despite his obsessive compulsive clanking of tongs and such, he has certainly come a long way since he first began at Benjamin’s. Granted, he was only 7 when he started. J to tha M, or Jungle Monkey as Kim affectionately calls him, hopes to one day travel the world, learning cooking secrets of the great chefs all around the globe. However, he says he has no plans of EVER visiting South America, Asia, Europe, or “any of them other places that ain’t America-like” as he puts it. His favorite food is sponge-cake. He says when he turns 21, he plans to make Milwaukee’s Best the first beer he ever tries, and he anticipates liking it.
A mother to all who are fortunate enough to know her, Susan McGehee is nothing short of a miraculous and amazing woman. I could leave it at the fact that she survived raising the four McGehee boys (Randy not included) as testament to her patience, love, grace, and fortitude, but there is so much more to her than that. Needless to say, many profanities were blurted out during those hostile and trying years, but today you’d be hard-pressed to hear Mama Sue say anything worse than “darn it” or “well I’ll be…”. However, some at the lake claim to have heard her call someone a “grumpy old tale-hole” once, but I sincerely doubt that. Mama Sue makes nearly all of the desserts for Benjamin’s and can often be found hosting on Friday nights during the hectic and humid summers. Oddly enough, her favorite memory at Benjamin’s is also the mysterious concert of August 28, 2010. Apparently, it was the closest thing to a gospel concert that there has been at Benjamin’s and she truly enjoyed it. Her favorite foods are whatever her boys decide to make for her, as she knows there is love in every bite. Her favorite drink is a double Long Island Iced Tea… virgin, of course.
Another former child-slave at Benjamin’s, Cody possesses the rare ability to move in slow motion and sweat at the same time. Cody recently graduated from Jefferson Forest where he was homecoming king, valedictorian, President of the chess club, and captain of the men’s gymnastics/aerobics team. Despite all this, he has chosen to fore-go college for now, claiming that his primary interests are right here in Forest. Those interests, of course, are working with the Benjamin’s crew as often as the schedule allows, fishing, racing go-karts, cross-stitching, and book club meetings with Kim Criswell (who he one day plans to marry). Cody’s young pallet is still yet undeveloped and he states that his favorite food is a plain, foot long hot dog and deep-fried Snickers bars. He has a collection of over 200 movies, all of which he could have downloaded for free but instead choose to pay full price for. His favorite movie is The Notebook and his favorite athlete is Kobe Bryant.
Old Shed Guy
For some reason unbeknownst to me, the strange man who sells sheds next to Benjamin’s also apparently works at Benjamin’s. I don’t know that he gets paid, or was ever even hired, but he walks in and does a few dishes, tells a vulgar joke or two, takes a bag of ice, and then leaves. I get the impression that everyone there just kinda lets him come and go as he pleases rather than risk a confrontation with him that could send him into a confused and violent frenzy. He has been known to fix a door here and there, and I believe he talked to the crew who extended the deck the entire time they worked, though he never once raised a hammer. He traps animals that wonder too close to the restaurant and I would assume that is what he eats. When not serving as Chief of Staff of The USA (United Sheds of America), word has it that he can be found reading Sartre and Kafka to his pigs.