White River Fish Market
White River Fish Market was established in downtown Tulsa as a counter service fish market in 1932. The market began when Oran Fallis and his father were delivering produce from Oklahoma farms to stores in Arkansas. The Fallises would return to Oklahoma with an empty truck, until they realized that they could bring back product to sell from the White River. The two would set up a stand and sell the fish on the side of the road. Later in 1932, Oran and his dad rented a building in downtown Tulsa near First Street and Boston Avenue. The fish market was the only fresh fish wholesaler in the state of Oklahoma that was supplied by regional anglers.
The fish market was started during a time in Oklahoma when most businesses were closing their doors. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl had a major impact on the state of the economy in Oklahoma. However, the White River Fish Market was able to not only exist but continued to strive. Oran Fallis was called to duty and served in World War II. Upon his return from the war, he added a lunch counter in 1942 and began serving fried foods. The market would eventually evolve and grow into the iconic restaurant that it is today. In the mid-sixties urban renewal moved the fish market out of the downtown location to the spot where it continues to serve the best seafood in town, the state, and the entire region.
In 1981, a native Texan by the name of Garry Cozby purchased White River Fish Market from Oran Fallis. Cozby went on to own the restaurant and fish market for twenty-eight years. Cozby changed little from the simple preparation process from the past. The kitchen remains uncomplicated as everything is either fried, broiled, or grilled and the house spice mix has remained the same. In the early days of the fish market, the motto was “you pick ‘em, we fix ‘em” because customers would choose their fish, have it weighed, and then have it cooked accordingly. Today, you can still pick your fish and take it home to prepare how you see fit for yourself or to entertain family and friends.
Garry Cozby passed away in 2009. Prior to his death, local and frequent customer, Tom Clark and J.J. Lester had offered to purchase the establishment when Garry was ready to sell. “Upon Garry’s death, the administrator of his estate pursued Clark and Lester as to their interest in acquiring the establishment. Of course, they immediately set in motion what they describe as one of their best business moves ever.” The tradition, the great food, and the wonderful atmosphere of the White River Fish Market continue on at full speed ahead. A second location has been added in the nearby suburb of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. On average, 600 customers walk through the doors of the old location per day. Those customers range from a unique mix of blue-collar workers to folks in suit and ties. A declaration, that this is the place to go for all your seafood cravings and needs for lunch or dinner.
The White River Fish Market is located at 1708 North Sheridan Road, Tulsa, OK, just a few miles from Tulsa International Airport. This proximity to the airport has allowed for the market and restaurant to have fresh fish flown in from the Gulf of Mexico and/or either coast of the United States. Thus, allowing the establishment to have the most delicious and freshest fish in the landlocked state and region. The dining area is simple and provides a cafeteria and large family like atmosphere. You walk into the restaurant and order your meal at the counter, take your seat, and lunch or dinner arrives within minutes to your table, hot and fresh. The wait staff and management treat each individual customer as if they have been eating at the restaurant since 1932, with the utmost respect and courtesy. The place is a bit of a throwback and it can be felt from the minute that you walk through the doors. The White River Fish Market is a must if you are traveling though or to Tulsa for any length of time. If you have a layover, hop in a Lyft and grab a quick taste of what is the most premier seafood establishment in the Midwest. Traveling Route 66? Take a quick detour off the beaten path. No matter the reason for your visit, this restaurant will not disappoint you or your family of quality food and great service! Enjoy!
Follow White River Fish Market on Facebook:
For Further Reading: