Lauren Cowan arrived in Middle Tennessee nearly a decade ago. A career in banking was her motivation.
Now, she makes food for a living.
“I named a pasta company after my wiener dog, Louie, and it has become my entire life,” Cowan said. “I never imagined it would do this well.”
Cowan, 31, owns Burns-based Louie’s Linguine. She makes pasta from scratch. And she’ll teach you how to make it, too. Her transition from an office and managing financials to the kitchen and handling pasta is about perseverance, a quality product, and Dickson County’s growth.
“I never planned to transition out of my banking career,” Cowan said. “I started Louie’s Linguine as a hobby and decided to sell pasta at markets just for a little extra money. I never thought it would become a full-time business.”
‘I truly work seven days a week on pasta’
Cowan grew up in Virginia, attended college in North Carolina and moved to Nashville in 2013. She had visited the city multiple times and fell in love with it. She started work in finance to “pay the rent” and remained in that line of work for 11 years.
Cowan had always enjoyed making and trying new foods. About three years ago, she focused primarily on pasta.
“I knew it was different than the dried pasta you usually get in a grocery store, but was never interested in making it for others,” Cowan said.
Still, she decided to give entrepreneurialism a shot. She began selling the pasta at farmers markets.
“I sold just one bag of pasta at my first market, which didn’t even get me close to breaking even but I kept going back and it turned into so much work that I had to make a decision about my career,” Cowan said.
Her original three pastas have now grown to 10 pasta flavors and three different ravioli fillings.
“I truly work seven days a week on pasta, whether it’s making dough or sauces, recipe testing, packaging, Italian Takeover,” Cowan said. “I’m so glad that it has turned into this.”
‘Many people’ asked about classes
Cowan and her husband Brandon Blakenship moved to Burns in early 2020. Later that year, in an arrangement with the Burns Mercantile owner, she started setting up with Louie’s Linguine business cards and fresh pasta to-go on the mercantile porch Saturday mornings. Word about the locally-made pasta began to spread. That fall, Cowan organized a pop-up event at Moss & Embers store in Burns. Louie’s Linguine gained more notoriety.
Morgan Kincaid was organizing a Christmas tree market in Burns for the first time that December and connected with Cowan as a vendor. Following the tree market, the two stayed in touch and eventually co-created the Burns Farmers Market last year, Cowan said.
While selling pasta, Cowan received one question repeatedly.
“I had so many people ask about pasta classes,” Cowan said. “Every time I would do a market, someone would inquire about it. I set out looking for (class) space in early 2021 and nothing felt like a match.”
But, late last year, Cowan found a location: The Loft on Main Street in Downtown Dickson. She now hosts the popular classes twice a month as well as private classes.
Grocery vs. handmade
“Fresh” is the primary adjective Cowan uses to explain why Louie’s Linguine pasta surpasses box noodles at the grocery.
“The texture of fresh pasta is very different compared to dried pasta! It’s more delicate and light tasting,” Cowan said.
Her pasta usually is made with egg – though she can make it vegan, too – which she says means lower carbs than dried pasta.
“I handmake the dough and incorporate herbs, citrus, seasonings, and vegetables. This gives the pasta its own flavor,” Cowan said.
Her best seller is roasted garlic pasta, which she describes as having a “very mild, buttery garlic flavor that can pair well with anything.” Cowan also makes a lemon pasta she says pairs best with pesto or butter and parmesan.
“You don’t want to cover up the citrus flavor of the actual pasta itself,” she said.
Last summer, she paired compound butters with the pasta. This season, she’s added scratch-made sauces and fresh-baked baguettes for the farmers market.
Cowan has also branched out with making Italian meals on Mondays at Furnace Brewery in Downtown Dickson.
Kincaid became owner of Furnace in late December and conversations soon started about how a “Italian Takeover” at Furnace would work. After two test runs, the kitchen opened to the public in April. It’s been a success.
“Every single thing that comes out of the kitchen has been scratch made,” Cowan said. “The pasta, the sauces, seasonings. Dickson really wants and needs real Italian food and that is my goal.”
Other goals include setting up at more markets throughout Middle Tennessee in addition to the Burns Farmers Market every Saturday, and moving into a permanent retail space.
“I have always loved trying new foods and making foods for others, maybe it’s my Love Language; so having an entire business centered around food is a dream come true for me,” Cowan said.
Owner: Lauren cowan
Information: @louieslinguine on Facebook and Instagram.
Class location: The Loft of Dickson, 134 North Main Street