Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A TOUR OF THE PIONEER WOMAN MERCANTILE


Lots of good people have come from Oklahoma.  Baseball players Johnny Bench and Mickey Mantle.  Actor and director Ron Howard. Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller.  Actor Brad Pitt.  Basketball player Blake Griffin. Actor Chuck Norris.  Singer and performer Kristin Chenoweth.  Astronaut Shannon Lucid, and Humorist Will Rogers.  Not to mention Reba, Carrie, Garth, Vince, Toby, & Blake!  But in the world of the internet, perhaps there's no bigger jewel in Oklahoma's crown than Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman!

The Pioneer Woman was the very first blog I started reading about 8 years ago.  Our local paper did a story on her when she was coming out with her first cookbook, and after checking out her blog, just like many other people, I was quickly hooked.  Reading about a ranch family's life in the (familiar) country is fascinating, not to mention my appreciation of Ree's sense of humor, devotion to her friends and family, stunning photography, and the mouth-watering recipes that she shares.


The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (The Merc as Ree calls it) is in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, about two hours northeast of Oklahoma City, or one hour northwest of Tulsa.


It is a combination restaurant, deli, bakery, and retail store.  It opened a few months ago, around the first of November.  With the busy-ness of the holidays approaching, then the kids being out of school, then missing two Fridays once they were back due to bad weather, last Friday (Ray's day off) was our first chance to take a little road trip while they were at school and head up to check it out.   I took LOTS of pictures so you can take in every detail, so get ready for a photo heavy post!


Ree's family purchased the historic, over 100 year old building that is now The Mercantile 5 years ago (read her post about it and see all of the "before" photos here), and has worked to restore it and bring it back to it's original beauty.



Our hostess who helped entertain the crowd as they waited in line was a fount of information.  She said that Ree's next building project will be in her home town of Bartlesville, OK, and she actually owns land all over the country-even New York- and hopes for her shops to be as common as Starbucks one day!  And, she will start filming shows for London's Food Network division soon- I'll be anxious to see that for sure!


We started in the restaurant for lunch, and came off of our low carb diet for the day, so everything we ate was brown.  And it was totally ooey gooey scrumptious and worth it!!  We shared the spinach dip, I ordered the grilled cheese and Ray ordered the fried chicken sandwich.  Everything was very tasty, and we brought a good amount of the homemade potato chips home with us... they are super crunchy, perfectly salted, and totally addictive!



MAJOR heart eyes for that original painting on the brick wall, the engraved wood wall, the green counter, and the handsome guy!


The patriarch of the family, Chuck (in the denim shirt below), stopped in just as we were getting to the front of the restaurant line for lunch.  Ray spotted him as he visited with one of the hosts, laid his jacket and hat across a stool at a high-top table, then sat down and ate his order of chicken strips.  :)  I REALLY wanted Ray to say hi to him so I could get a pic of them together and visit for a moment, but he kindly restrained himself and let the man be.  I can only imagine what he thinks about the hysteria that The Merc has brought to his home town!  (I'm sure they're all good thoughts, the Pawhuska economy probably doesn't know what hit it!)


The first floor of the Merc houses the restaurant and kitchen, deli counter, and the retail shop.




The dishes and serving ware are to die for!




The gift wrap counter with the sweetest wrapping paper choices-



An example of Ree's sense of humor... Marie Antoinette salt and pepper shakers. Off with her head!  The two pieces are magnetic, the head holds salt and the body holds pepper.





My favorite design element- those fabulous chandeliers lined up all around the shop.



The second floor has views that overlook downtown and houses the bakery, candy counter, bakery kitchen, and lounge area.







One thing that stood out to me on our visit was the details.  It was apparent that every little thing was well thought out at the Merc.  This place was ripped down to the bare bones, except for leaving some of the early original features like the brick walls, tin ceilings, and wood floors, and completely rebuilt.  The "doggie bag" containers aren't just a styrofoam box, they're cute little cardboard boxes and tin trays with a lid.  The employees are separated and identified by color coded shirts- black and white gingham for the host/hostesses, red gingham for the restaurant servers, denim for the cooks/baristas, and black for the retail shop workers.  And it might sound silly, but I was even impressed that there were candles lit on the bathroom counter and normal tp holders with real toilet paper (instead of the industrial size dispensers and tissue thin rolls).  With the amount of people that visit the Merc each day, they must go through A LOT of toilet paper rolls!  And HOW CUTE IS THIS BATHROOM???


Here are a few things to consider if you'd like to visit the Merc some day:

*The Mercantile is THE destination for the day!  Don't be in a hurry and don't expect to walk right in and be served.  If you do eat in the restaurant, it's easy to spend 3-4 hours by the time you wait, eat, then shop and take in the rest of the building.

*I heard it through the grapevine that parking isn't really an issue, there's plenty around the Merc in the surrounding downtown area, but DON'T SPEED while you're in town!  The police officers have an eagle eye out on the speed limits!

*Weekends, work holidays, and days around the holidays are definitely busier than normal weekdays.  However, even at that, expect for there still to be a crowd any time you come.  We arrived on a Friday morning about 10:45, got in line for the restaurant right away, and waited about an hour until we were seated for lunch.  Larger groups may have a longer wait time, and wait times on the weekends are closer to 2 hours.  The earlier in the day you can arrive, the better.  The wait will be much shorter for breakfast.

*Speaking of waiting, our hostess encouraged me to let you all know that you WILL be standing in lines for long periods of time, outside, so dress accordingly.  Be prepared for the cold and the wind, and although you might be tempted to wear cute (uncomfortable) heels/shoes for that photo you're hoping to get with Ree, that's probably not the best choice for all of the standing and walking you'll be doing around the Merc.

*There is a deli/take out counter and bakery with counter service if you want to sample some things without waiting for and being seated at a table, but even those lines can get backed up at peak times.



*One last bit of advice, don't expect to see Ree.  I have several friends who have visited and happened to catch her there when they went, but in reality she is not there very often (and she's definitely not back in the kitchen cooking for everyone, as our hostess laughed and told us that's what a few people expected... ha!).  It might not be too uncommon to catch other members of the Drummond family there who stop in fairly often.  They generally are happy to visit with and take pictures with visitors.

If you visit The Merc and have some extra time around town, be sure to check out the list of nearby attractions while you're in the area.  I snapped this photo just as we were leaving town.  Even with the dead winter grasses, the land is stunning!


If you're not familiar with Ree's books, they're great!  I have several of her cookbooks and it's always fun to try a new recipe from them.


A few of her children's books: Charlie The Ranch Dog and Little Ree


So.... do you read The Pioneer Woman?  Do you have one of her cookbooks?  What's your favorite PW recipe (mine is the cinnamon rolls!)?  Come see us in Oklahoma sometime and visit The Merc!  And, check out some of my other favorite spots to visit in Oklahoma here.


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23 comments:

  1. that looks like such a fun place!!! i wanna go!

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  2. I do not read her blog - never really have, other than a few times here and there - but I adore her Food Network show, her cookbooks and most of her merchandise. And I would LOVE to visit the Merc in person. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I love her show, too. I just think their whole operation is so fascinating! Hope you get to visit some day!

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  3. Love her show, I watch it almost every day and I love her cookbooks. I really enjoy seeing the shows they did about how they brought this old building back to life. Great post, thanks for the tour.

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    1. Yes, weren't those fun to watch? I've seen a few of the posts about the renovation but I need to catch some of those episodes too. Of course, you might be sick of renovation right now with your big kitchen project! ;) Come visit us in OK some day! :)

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  4. My girlfriend and I from St. Louis went on a "dart board" roadtrip and ended up at the Merc on Tuesday, January 10. I had heard that we could expect crowds so we thought getting there after the lunch rush we'd be safe. We got there at 1:30 pm and had to wait about 45 minutes to get inside but that went by quickly. It was a beautiful warm day for January and so the wait was enjoyable - especially as we visited with a lovely retired couple from Tulsa the whole time - and The Merc greeter was lots of fun, too. My friend and I both enjoyed our lunches (spying Chuck and his friends at the table across from ours) and then our visit to the bakery upstairs. We browsed the shop only purchasing a t-shirt, but people were coming out with bags. After lunch we checked out the couple of shops on Main Street and chatted with the friendly shopkeepers. (I have a feeling the next time I go to Pawhuska there will be LOTS of shops on Main Street!) We also explored the small town of 2,600, found the Drummond ranch gate outside of town and toured the Grass Plains at dusk, which were absolutely gorgeous!

    To finish our roadtrip, we went and explored Tulsa, Springfield, Missouri and back home to St. Louis. The people in Oklahoma could not be more friendly or gracious and we hope to go back before too long!

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    1. I was about to ask what a "dart board" trip is, but is that where you randomly chose a place off of the map? HOW FUN!!! I love that idea! Glad it brought you to OK and that you had such a good time in our great state, we ARE a pretty friendly lot! We explored Pawhuska just a bit but I wish we had visited some of the other local shops too. Next time!

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  5. That is such a fun day out, I wish I could come scoop you up and head over there for the day! It looks and sounds amazing. Loving the rustic wood cabinetry topped by marble in the store and bathroom, and the lighting!

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    1. Yes, that would be SO much fun! I think I'd rather visit you in New England, though. :)

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  6. Thank you for sharing your pictures! I definitely want to visit there. I have a relative that lives in Oklahoma City so we could include a visit with them. I enjoyed seeing your pictures and the info you shared. I imagine the locals are a bit overwhelmed with what she's brought to their town! Wouldn't it be fantastic if she did open more of these around the country! I have followed her blog for a while and was able to see pictures as they progressed with the project. She sure seems like a wonderful person- I'd probably forget my name if I ran into her!

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    1. Yes, you should definitely extend your OKC visit with a trip to the Merc! It would be fun to meet her, but I'm sure I'd be all flustered too!

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  7. Ree's blog was the first I'd read too! Thanks for the fun post.

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  8. I've loved her since her first year. As she's gotten bigger, I was a little sad. It seemed less friendly. But she has been so kind through thick and thin to everyone, I can't help but wish her all the success. PS I'd be happy for you if your fame rose too.

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    1. Her popularity has completely exploded! Have you head that she'll have a magazine coming out in a few months? She does and always has seemed to be very transparent, though. I'm happy for her too, nice to cheer on a fellow Oklahoman! PS, thank you. I'm super happy right here, though! ;)

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  9. Thank you for all the great pics. I knew she opened it but did not hear another word. All the fUn and talented people live in TX ree, joanna. Haha

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    1. Oh no, Ree's in OKLAHOMA!!! We have fun people too! :) Glad you enjoyed the tour.

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  10. Omgosh I thought ree lived in tx, but she lives in ok lol??

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    1. Love the tour! We are planning a trip to Pawhuska when the weather gets warmer so I am glad to get a preview! I recently purchased a set of her flatware and my husband broke a fork the first night. I contacted them through her website and they are replacing it. I love her cookbooks, her recipes are easy to follow and her photos are amazing. So is Oklahoma, the prairie is so big and unobstructed, and the rivers are just as gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing your day in Pawhuska!

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  11. Enjoyed every bit of this visit Jennifer! Thank you! I want to buy everything you took a photo of (except your hubs of course ;-))! Love it, will definitely be a stop when I'm in that part of the country!

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  12. I loved this post! I'm a big fan of the pioneer woman and enjoy her show and cookbooks. I would love to visit the Merc but live on the East Coast so not sure when I'll get out that way. My favorite pioneer woman recipe is her original Perfect Pot Roast recipe from 2008. I make it all the time and it is so unbelievably good. Its one of my husband's favorites as well. I never really liked pot roast at all before I tried this recipe. I do it exactly as she does it in the recipe and it is amazing every single time!

    Thanks for sharing your tour of the Merc with us!!!

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