When Rip's Country Inn opened in 1952 the area near the restaurant was countryside. Today it is at the busy thriving intersection of routes 50 and 301, a stop for locals and Route 50 travelers alike, a halfway point between Annapolis and points farther up county.

Doug Johnson, the assistant manager, has been at Rip's for 17 years; Greg Stanley, the general manager, has made Rip's his home for 18 years. Johnson refers to his clientele as "the full spectrum: people dressed in sweats to business folks. The parking lot is filled with BMWs to junky Chevys."

But Jewel Wilson, one of the managers, says the diners all have one thing in common: Family is what Rip's is all about. "The happy hour crowd is not going to inundate us."

From the outside, Rip's looks immense and though it does seat about 250 people the space is divided into three small rooms. A fourth room is used for Sunday brunch and is reserved on Mondays and Saturdays for groups of 30 or more.

Some of the restaurant actually is reminiscent of a country inn, while other parts center around a horse motif. A plaque bearing a different horse's name is affixed above each booth (stall) and yokes, stirrups, bridles and other tack adorn the walls. One of the stable areas is the smoking section and bar. Behind the bar, is a stained-glass horse racing scene.

The atmosphere is warm and cozy. Although the restaurant feeds a lot of people, you aren't treated like one of the herd.

House specials at breakfast include creamed chip beef over toast or a biscuit with country fries or grits ($4.50) and steak and eggs ($7.95). Or try the club breakfast--three pancakes served with butter and syrup ($3.25) or pancakes served with eggs, choice of sausage, bacon or ham, accompanied by fries or grits ($5.50).

At lunch, there's an assortment of sandwiches and salads at moderate prices and a six-ounce burger for $3.95. "Rip's Specialties" and "Old Favorites" include the country dip--lean beef served au jus with fries for $6.25--and the seafood platter--shrimp, scallops and fish, served with french fries and coleslaw for $9.95.

Dinners fall into categories such as "Lightfare," "From the Sea" and "Homestyle Favorites." This translates into entrees such as chicken spinach salad with chili ranch sauce ($8.50); meatloaf deluxe ($9.75) served with mashed potatoes, green beans and tomato gravy ($9.75); filet mignon ($16.50); and seafood linguine ($14.75).

For desserts, a house favorite is Granny Surprise, a fudge, coconut and pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. Hot apple dumplings and homemade bread pudding are also on the menu, with prices ranging from $1.95 to $3.50.

Rip's Country Inn, 3809 North Crain Hwy., Bowie; call 301-805-5901. Open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.