High school friends Saleh Agha and Ihab Kayello got college jobs at the old Bixby Subs & Burgers at 129th Street and Memorial Drive. Little did they know then that life eventually would lead them back to the same spot.
More recently, that location had been home to Spartan Family Diner.
“The Spartan owner decided to close it when he opened Mom’s Family Diner just up the road (just past 131st Street),” Agha said. “We were friends of his, and he knew we were looking for a location to open our own restaurant.
“He told us the space would be available, so we took the opportunity to open our restaurant here, right where we were in college.”
Kayello had worked at the Bill & Ruth’s at 15th Street and Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, so he and Agha decided to acquire a Bill & Ruth’s franchise. Bill & Ruth’s restaurants are independently owned and have a good amount of leeway with the menu.
In addition to the basic deli menu of subs and spuds, Agha and Kayello decided to offer such items as hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs, Mediterranean cuisine and chili.
We recently met some family there, including two grandsons who reside in Bixby, following a riveting lacrosse match. I didn’t know much about lacrosse before one of our grandsons started playing a few years ago, and it turned out to be a terrific spectator sport.
Anyway, back to the grub.
The Mediterranean gyros platter ($9.99) was a good-sized meal that included thin strips of lamb-and-beef gyros meat served over rice with sides of tabouli, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, pita bread and tzatziki sauce.
I liked the flavor of the parsley-heavy tabouli, though it seemed light on olive oil, if there was any at all. The smooth hummus had a mellow, earthy flavor, and the meat and rice was a flavorful combination.
The owners told me that burgers surprisingly had been the restaurant’s biggest sellers, and my avocado cheeseburger ($5.99) was a testament to that. The burger was filled with a one-third-pound beef patty with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado. It was thick and tough to hold together but definitely worth the effort.
Another avocado dish, the avocado salad ($7.49), was loaded with romaine and iceberg lettuces, shredded cheese, sliced eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, black olives, carrots, cucumbers and what appeared to be a whole avocado.
A three-way ($6.99) — spaghetti, chili and cheese — was a little greasy but had a pleasing flavor and was plenty to share.
On the sub side, a cold ham and cheese was tasty, and the hot grilled chicken and cheese was a flavorful combination with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy Italian dressing, plus, upon request, onions and jalapeno slices.
I have to hand it to the kitchen staff, who came up with an off-menu melted cheese sandwich with two layers of cheese and three slices of bread for one diner with, let’s just say, a limited range of food choices.
Bill & Ruth’s also runs weekly specials. Recently, it was a smokehouse barbecue sub with potato salad and a drink for $7.99. Specials are posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
A cooler near the order counter has a variety of beverages and grab-and-go items, such as Greek pasta salad, stuffed grape leaves, potato salad, hummus, tabouli and fresh fruit. Bill & Ruth’s also has a drive-through, plus catering and delivery services.
The dining room has been renovated with a mix of faux finished walls, painted concrete block, wood and tile with a gray background. Decorations include a wooden American flag, a painting of Marilyn Monroe and black-and-white photos of Brooklyn. A television was tuned to my wife’s favorite, HGTV.
The owners said don’t be put off if it looks as though some construction is happening at the strip center.
“The owner is remodeling the exterior, but we will be open while that is going on,” Agha said.