After 34 years in the hospitality industry, managing hotels, restaurants, high-end country clubs, Enid native Rodney Brittain returned home to go into business for himself.
He has spent months power washing, hammering, sawing and measuring, turning the old warehouse at 112 E. Cherokee into a restaurant he hopes his hometown will love.
Cherokee Ranch Land & Cattle Co. is a dream under development for years, and though it’s now only months away from opening, Brittain’s still thinking up new ideas for his restaurant, touches that customers won’t forget.
“We’re anticipating bringing something new. Something that is so different that it’s never been seen,” Brittain said.
Opening day should come around April 1, he said, maybe earlier, maybe later.
“There’s a lot of passion in this building and a lot of excitement,” he said. “When we open, we hope the community loves it as much as we’ve loved (creating it).”
The atmosphere he’s aiming for is just as the name implies.
When work is done, John Wayne wouldn’t look out of place sipping bourbon at the long, 1890s triple-mirrored bar placed in the back.
“A fun, family western environment,” he said.
Brittain has 31,500 square feet of warehouse to work with. It was a costly investment, made with help from friend and business partner Stephen Leins, and it bought a lot of empty space for Brittain to make his own, but there’s certain things he won’t touch.
He’s balancing renovation and preservation. With a building roughly 100 years old, many of its best charms already were there and can’t be improved upon.
By the front door, in what will be the lobby, a faded advertisement for tobacco takes up an entire brick wall. It’s staying, and Brittain is paying to get it touched up.
The wood flooring will get a cleaning and a clear coat and nothing more.
Garage doors will be replaced by barn doors, saloon-style swing doors will be installed, and an old-fashioned wagon is waiting to be showcased.
One wall is done up like the front porch of a cabin, it’s curtained windows will be lit up, and an overhang will stretch out over diners.
At maximum, close to 200 people can be seated and served, Brittain estimates, 80 in the main dining area, 40 at the bar, another 60 in the west side of the building.
People have referred to Cherokee Ranch as a steakhouse, a label that carries certain connotations.
The menu is still be finalized, and it certainly will have steak, but above all, Brittain wants his menu to be affordable.
“We want a wide variety of people to be able to come in here,” he said. “You want a $16 steak, we’ll have it. You want a tomahawk bone-in ribeye for $65-70, then we’re going to have it.”
Though he’s done much of the labor himself, with help from an old Enid friend, and it’s been slower going than he’d like as a result, he expects the pace of construction will pick up drastically soon.
Electrical, plumbing, heating and fire suppression all need doing, and that’s where he’ll back away and let the experts chip in, but with those steps out of the way, “it’s off to the races,” he said.
“We’re going to give the community a fantastic product, and hopefully, a very fun place to go,” he said.
Story provided by Enid News & Eagle
Written by: Mitchell Willetts