‘Pioneer Woman’ prepares to open deli, shop

Roseanne McKeeJ-C Correspondent
‘Pioneer Woman’ prepares to open deli, shop

The “Pioneer Woman,” Ree Drummond, known for her weekly Food Network show, books, and blog, will soon open a street-level store and deli at the corner of Main St. and Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska with offices on the second floor.

The opening date for the deli and shop have not been announced, but Ree Drummond and her husband, Ladd Drummond, will take occupancy of the second floor offices on July 30, according to the general contractor, Terry Loftis.

The Food Network will film an episode about new the offices on July 31. During filming, parts of Main and Kihekah will be blocked off for filming, so Loftis was on a tight deadline this week to get everything on the second floor ready, he said.

On July 23, Loftis, of J. L. and Associates, LLC, provided a tour and detailed description of the renovations and efforts to preserve and restore the historic features of the 25,760 sq. ft. building.

A. J. Hamilton and her crew started three summers ago and did 90 percent of the demoltion, Loftis said.

Loftis, who joined the project 15 months ago, began the tour on the north side of the building just inside the northern Kihekah Ave. entrance.

“You’re standing in what will be the Pioneer Woman Deli with a commercial kitchen in back,” Loftis said.

The style of the deli and adjacent shop, which features 17’ ceilings, will be rustic yet modern, and will provide jobs for 20-25 people, he said. The official names of the deli and shop have not been decided, Loftis said.

Loftis: “the wood floor’s been exposed to show the concrete. As you can see, that L’s back to the opening to the kitchen. That will be where you walk up. There will be a counter there. That’s where you’ll order. There will be two or three places to order along with display cases.

“They’re going to feature ready-made sandwiches, sandwiches they’ll make while you wait.

“Between these two posts, which will be covered with wood and dressed out, there will be a buffet line.

“There will be hot food ready to go. In addition to that they’ll have several daily specials that you can call down and pick up on your way home – a lasagna for eight people, it will already be cooked or it will already be prepared and all you’ll have to do is take it home and pop it in the oven.

“Over here along this plaster wall there will be a coffee and cappuccino bar. There will be free wireless internet throughout the place. The tables will be out here where you’re standing scattered around. The tables will spill over into the other side.

“The north interior wall of the building is original exposed, red brick floor to ceiling. Loftis explained that this was hidden by three inches of plaster. Once removed, the bricks were acid washed three times and finished with a matte sealant,” Loftis explained.

Every effort has been made to preserve the beauty and historic features of the building and to restore and repurpose original materials, Loftis said.

“Most of you will not know or remember these tiles covered the entire length of both ceilings, but there were several drop ceilings below it. Ladd and Ree decided they wanted this to go back on the ceiling, so we found someone who can actually patch and repair on these. We took them to Bartlesville … and they’ve all been powder-coated, so they never have to be re-done again. Now they look like this. They will cover the entire ceiling in the restaurant that the public sees,” Loftis said.

The commercial kitchen will be completely tiled, he said.

An interior brick wall was preserved in the renovation and still depicts a large advertisement for the National Biscuit Company, known today as Nabisco, Loftis said. Before the addition was built, this was an exterior wall, visible to sidewalk traffic on Kihekah.

Later, an addition was added to the north side of the building, which will soon hold the Pioneer Woman Deli. Over the years, several businesses called this space home.

First, the space was occupied by a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, and then Safeway and for many years the Mode O’ Day Dress Shop, according to the 97-year old Pawhuska source.

Pawhuska resident Andrea Renfrow said she remembered shopping in the Safeway in the 1950s.

“I lived in Barnsdall growing up and we came to Pawhuska to do all our shopping,” Renfrow said.

As a result of the addition, the wall depicting the National Biscuit Company ad is now an interior wall. Part of this wall has been removed to unify the previously separate spaces.

“This hole did not exist. This is Ladd Drummond’s hole. That’s exactly what we call it because Nan and Ree have tried to close it down three or 14 or 15 times and he refuses,” Loftis said with a grin. (Nan Drummond is Ree Drummond’s mother-in-law).

“This is structural wall that is actually this thick with rock and brick. The I-beam holding the rest of the structure up weighed approximately 4,400 lbs. It took a two-man lift and 13 people to get it in the air, but it is structurally sound.”

Next the tour moved to the south side of the building.

According to Loftis, the southern half of the building, with one wall facing Main St., is where the Osage Mercantile was originally. The new shop is planned for this location where the Pioneer Woman’s books, products she endorses and the work of local artists, will be sold, Loftis said.

According to a reliable 97-year old Pawhuska source, a men and women’s clothing store called C. R. Anthony’s occupied the space in the 1930’s.

“This side will be a re-creation of the Osage Mercantile, we’ve put the entry back like it was,” said Loftis.

Loftis used original materials in the restoration of the entryways, doors and windows.

“All of the entries have been completely reworked. If you will remember how bad the old aluminum entryways looked — those were all taken down. The awning off the front of the building that was falling down was taken off. No, we did not get rid of all the metal. If you’ll look at the ceiling back up there that is actually the metal is what was on the awning. We did the same thing out here at the corner, where the column is. We tried to repurpose that. We have the rest of that and are actually going to use it as a finished ceiling material in the back staircase. That way we’re repurposing as much as we can,” Loftis explained.

“If you’ll remember, these entries went all the way to the ground. Well in order to make the front of the building look the same, that rock work and brick work underneath the windows was already there, but this one was only this high,” Loftis said, indicating the height with his raised arm.

“So the bricks removed from around the column, to expose it, were saved, cleaned, acid-washed, scraped; we used those to lay these walls up back to the same height, so it would be the same height all the way across,” he said.

For the area beneath these windows, Loftis explained, “since we didn’t have any concrete capstone … we actually took two by fours and made forms, poured them in here so they looked like new concrete, popped them out and started scrubbing them with wire brushes and muriatic acid and then sealed them to make them look aged, so that everything on the outside would look the same.

“All of the entryways were custom-designed by Nan and Ree — as far as the size and shape of the windows. The door was custom-made by an Amish group in Missouri. All of the glass has been replaced from a very thin glass to one-inch Thermopane and they do have a light tint.

“This is actually a concrete floor underneath with wood frame on top of it. These are the original floors. When you get upstairs to the finished space, you won’t believe that we were able to sand them and make them look as good as they look.”

Look for follow-up articles in the PJC revealing other secrets of the building, interesting antiques found the building, and a detailed description of the second floor office layout.