A Book Review: "Lost Restaurants of Tulsa" By Rhys A. Martin
A must-read book for not just current and former Tulsans, but for all lovers of culinary history, nostalgic photography, and a journey through six decades of “Tulsa Time.” Lost Restaurants of Tulsa (ISBN: 978-1-6258-5910-5) by author Rhys A. Martin is scheduled for release on December 3rd, 2018. The book is published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press and will be distributed through the American Palate Books series. The book will be available in a one hundred and ninety-two-page paperback and on the digital platform, Kindle. Martin offers the reader a round trip, first class ticket, with this book from the discovery of oil in 1901 through the Great Depression and back to the Oil Bust of the 1980s.
Rhys Martin is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2009, Martin sold all of his belongings and headed out to explore the world. He found himself living out of a backpack for ten months while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. During this time, Martin discovered his love for photography and exploration. Martin then returned back to Tulsa, with his newfound passions and his new outlook on the city, he began to turn his attention to historic Route 66. Rhys has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. During this time and travel, Martin began to really appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the iconic Mother Road. All of these travels and experiences have led Rhys Martin to write maybe one of the most important books about not just the history of restaurants past, but more importantly to Rhys, it is about the history of the people of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to Lynn Lipinski of the publication The Tulsa Voice, Martin spent 18 months of writing and research for the book. The research included time spent at The Tulsa Historical Society and Central Library. But most importantly to Martin, he reached out to friends and family who helped run the restaurants from Tulsa’s past. “It was their stories that most interest me,” he said. Through this research, Martin does a wonderful job making sure that the reader understands what fueled the initial growth of Tulsa, the times throughout the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the Oil Bust of the 1980s.
Left: Bishop’s Restaurant Right: Pennington’s Drive-In
“Food connects us like nothing else does. Everybody has to eat, and we have so many options to choose from”-Rhys Martin. This is the first line from one of the most magnificent books yet to be written about the history of people and food in Tulsa. The oil discovery in Oklahoma in 1901 and future discoveries in and around the area led to Tulsa being proclaimed the “Oil Capital of the World.” With the booming economy came the need for services for the quickly increasing population. Architecture began to go up, oil and gas companies continued to move into the area. Along with this came business men. One such business man, William W. Bishop “Bill”, along with his friend, Joseph H. Powers “Harry” opened up their first Tulsa restaurant, Kansas City Waffle House No 2 in 1916. Rhys Martin goes on to tell the story of how Bill and Harry went on to expand the restaurant in 1930 to a full scale operation, based on the Harvey Houses in the Southwestern United States. The name of the operation would be Bishop’s. Martin uses not only historical facts, pictures, and his own words to tell the story of Bishop’s. He also sat down with relatives to get a first-hand account that adds a personal perspective to the history in this book.
Another important restaurant that is highlighted in this book is Pennington’s Drive In. Martin does an absolute fantastic job in this segment. He tells the history of Pennington’s before its existence. Starting in 1934 with Archie and Lola Pennington’s first restaurant called Lindy’s in the nearby city of Broken Arrow. According to Martin, Lindy’s was known to be very busy and customers would request that their food be brought out to their automobiles. This is important, because after a trip by Archie to Florida, where he witnessed his first Drive in, the idea would soon come to Tulsa. In 1948, Archie would open Lindy’s Drive-In in Tulsa. This establishment would cater to both an eat in and curb side service crowd. This would eventually lead to the famous Pennington’s Drive-In opening in 1951.
“Lost Restaurants of Tulsa” tells the history and stories of 44 eateries of Tulsa’s past. Martin provides the reader with precise, detailed history along with very personal accounts of the places that continue to live on through stories from one generation to the next. This publication can be read from cover to cover, or it can be easily read as a flip through book, skipping from place to place. Once you begin reading about places such as the Metro Diner, Casa Bonita, and The Bakery on Cherry Street, you won’t want to put it down. This publication has been released and has already been scheduled to print a second addition and possibly a third. “Lost Restaurants of Tulsa” is quickly becoming a must have book and you do not want to miss out on having this piece of history in your collection. The author has also hinted of doing a sequel in the future that will include some of the places that were left out of the first book.
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