Over the years, we have seen many folks transition from another career to the restaurant business. Never have we seen anyone largely forgo a career as a veterinarian to become a restaurateur.
Meet Lacey and Brian Loveless, both veterinarians who recently took over Great Harvest Bread Co. in The Farm Shopping Center.
Following college at Oklahoma State University, they worked in separate clinics in Fort Worth, Texas — Brian for 12 years and Lacey for 10.
So what gives?
“My clinic turned corporate, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but we wanted to open our own business and return to Oklahoma,” Brian said. “Eighty percent of Lacey’s family is here, and my dad is from Sand Springs.
“We are licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Oklahoma. We figured we would come back as vets, but the kind of opportunities we were looking for were limited.”
Lacey said she and Brian were taking a vacation in the mountains of New Mexico when they were doing some research and learned the Great Harvest Bread Co. store in Tulsa was for sale.
“When I was younger, my family lived in Anchorage, Alaska, for six years,” Lacey said. “That was almost 25 years ago, but I remember Great Harvest was the most popular place in town.”
The couple said they are committed to operating Great Harvest full time, but they also plan to look into some part-time veterinary opportunities.
“We don’t intend to give up medicine,” Lacey said. “I think we will be able to find some work here on our days off.”
Great Harvest is best-known for its fresh-milled wheat flour using wheat bought from family farms in Montana. A variety of breads is baked daily, including honey whole wheat, bacon cheddar beer bread, pumpkin chocolate chip, golden coconut and low-carb country crunch, depending on the day.
A favorite of mine has been the Dakota, available every day. It includes pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet and sesame seeds. It’s tasty and, as far as I can tell, pretty healthful.
Great Harvest also has a variety of scones, muffins, cookies, salads, brownies, soups, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and bars (both sweet and savory).
We stopped by recently to try a couple of sandwiches and a few pastries. We ordered the ham and cheese sandwich ($6.95), Baja chipotle turkey sandwich ($7.95), Savannah bar ($2.50), berry cream cheese scone ($2.50) and low-fat “cran blue” muffin ($2.50).
The ham and cheese included slices of honey-smoked ham, white wine Dijon mustard, mayo, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, thin-sliced red onion, salt and pepper. We tried bites with and without the onion, and the onion definitely gave it a flavor lift.
The Baja was a mix of sliced turkey breast layered with avocado spread, shaved cabbage, pickled red onion, tomato, pepper jack cheese, chipotle-lime sauce, salt and pepper. The rather mellow chipotle-lime sauce and the cabbage gave the sandwich a pleasing flavor.
Both sandwiches were good-sized and filling. We chose Harvest white bread over honey whole wheat and Dakota.
The Savannah, a mainstay at Great Harvest for as long as I can remember, features an oatmeal cookie crust topped with pieces of fruit, rolled oats and shaved coconut, all topped with cookie crumbles.
It’s crumbly and has a sweet-tart flavor that works as a breakfast item or warmed up as a dinner dessert.
“It’s really good topped with ice cream,” Brian said.
The berry cream cheese scone had a soft texture and would make a sweet start to the morning with a cup of hot joe. The cranberry blueberry muffin was more coarse and savory and also would pair well with coffee.
The soups of the day when we were there were roasted red pepper Gouda and broccoli cheddar.
Great Harvest also offers a number of shelf items, including Oklahoma jams, mustards, soup mixes, candied jalapenos, spicy pickled okra, spicy garlic dill pickles, Tulsa honey, Colorado vinaigrettes and Texas peanut butter.
It also has Great Harvest brand brownie, dark fudge and pancake mixes; granola, trail mix and 9-grain hot cereal.
The restaurant has a main floor dining area and a small elevated area. Both are shiny and bright. Patio tables are located outside two of the three entrances.
Great Harvest has had a bit of a rocky road since original franchisees Donna and Greg Diamond opened the store in 2001 and ran it for about 10 years. It has had a couple of owners and been closed for a short time. Stephanie and Sam Polito, who were semiretired and had operated successful Great Harvest stores in Illinois, basically baby-sat the Tulsa location while new owners were being sought.
“The Politos did a good job keeping it going,” Brian said. “We plan to be here for a long time.”