Pawhuska may never be the same after The Pioneer Woman Mercantile opens its doors on Halloween, and that might be a good thing.
At a meeting held for Pawhuska business owners at the Dave Landrum Community Center in Pawhuska Oct. 25, Ree Drummond and The Pioneer Woman Mercantile staff was on hand to answer questions. The general consensus of the meeting: thousands of visitors from all over the world are about to come to Pawhuska and Drummond wants all of Pawhuska to benefit.
“I don’t think of this as my place,” Drummond said of her anticipated store opening on Monday. “It’s larger than me, it’s about our town and Osage County.”
Kurtess Mortensen, the chef who will be running The Mercantile, said the two-story bakery, deli and general store will feature a hot and cold deli with “good, honest country cooking,” what Drummond is known for. There will be a take-out and pick-up counter for convenient dining, a soup, salad and sandwich bar. A full-service display kitchen where diners can order from the menu, watch their food be prepared and dine à la carte.
The Mercantile has partnered with Tulsa-based Topeca Coffee, which features coffee beans from South America, and will have professional baristas who were trained at Topeca Coffee working at the coffee bar, he said. There is also flavored lemonades and teas for customers to choose. Upstairs is the bakery, complete with a demonstration area, bistro, couches and other comfort features. Mortensen said their bakery chef was trained in France and Germany and her croissants, pastries and treats are some of the best he’s ever tasted. Next to the bakery is a candy store.
Next door to The Mercantile is The Mercantile Store, which will feature Pioneer Woman merchandise.
Mortensen said they won’t have hamburgers or barbecue, they will “blend in to Pawhuska” and offer unique food Pawhuska doesn’t already have. He said the prices at The Mercantile are reasonable; and in anticipation of the large crowds, fresh lemonade and cookies will be given to those waiting in line outside.
“We want to make sure everyone who walks through our doors feels welcome,” he said.
Also speaking to the Pawhuska merchants was Staci Addison, who is the general manager of The Pink Pistol and The Ladysmith in Tishomingo, Okla., the stores opened by country music star Miranda Lambert.
She said Tishomingo was just an ordinary sleepy town of about 3,000 people, where nothing ever changed, nother ever happened and people liked it that way. That was until Lambert’s stores opened and everyone’s world turned upside down, “but in a good way.”
There were so many people excited just to see Lambert and they came from all over the country in droves, “it was an immediate impact,” she said. The increased visitors meant increased business for all, as well as an increased tax base that meant improvements to the town.
“You have a quality, quality individual in your community that is investing,” Addison said, to the applause from the crowd.
“They will come because of her,” she said pointing to Drummond. “They will come because of what she has done. No offense, but you will never understand the amount of responsibility she has.”
She told the Pawhuska merchants they need to pull together, work together, because in the end everyone is helping one another to be successful.
Addison said there will be people who have been saving their money, waiting for The Mercantile to open, waiting to “experience” Pawhuska, the place where The Pioneer Woman lives. She said everyone needs to get ready for the influx of visitors that will be coming.
“They don’t want to drive 17 hours and go to one place,” she said. After they see The Mercantile, they will walk around Pawhuska to see the other sights and venues it has to offer.
Mortensen, who was formerly based in Las Vegas, Nev., has worked for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Hard Rock Hotel, Paris and Bally’s Las Vegas and was trained at the Western Culinary Institute, according to his LinkedIn page.
He said he has been in Pawhuska for a couple of months and in the past 40 days he has met nearly 700 people that were from out of state. Last week he met a family from Colorado, a couple from Albany, N.Y., a couple from Illinois, and today he met a couple from Arkansas.
For the past few years he has been working at opening restaurants and businesses all over the world and was recently opening a restaurant in Dubai. He said when he first spoke with Drummond, “I just felt this light,” and he knew he needed to be involved in the project. Once he came to Pawhuska and got a feel for the community, it felt like home.
“These two people (Ree and her husband Ladd Drummond), are just people. That’s a big deal after living in Las Vegas for 12 years,” he said. “Unless they kick me out I don’t plan on going anywhere for a really long time.”
Mortensen, who grew up in a small town in southern Utah, understands how small communities work. He said he was also exposed to the Paiute Indian Tribe and the Navajo Nation growing up there, and he has also worked for an entertainment company in the past that handled two tribal casinos in Arizona and California.
He said he spoke with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn about two months ago but their busy schedules have kept them apart. However, he said they definitely want to do something that incorporates the tribe.
“Some of our staff is Osage, so it makes sense,” he said.
Shannon Shaw Duty
Original Publish Date: 2016-10-25 00:00:00