Randall Williams grew up around a traditional American diner, but he didn’t see himself ever launching a restaurant career.
“My parents have had a diner in Henryetta, Classic Diner, since I was 9 years old,” Williams said. “It opened in 1999, and I worked at the restaurant until after high school.
“I got my IT degree in college and worked in that field for a few years. For me, it just got stale, and I decided I would rather do something else day in and day out.”
That something turned out to be Randall’s Route 66 Diner across the street from the courthouse in downtown Sapulpa.
“Dad’s family is from Sapulpa, and my grandpa owned a car lot here,” Williams said. “I saw this place was for lease and checked it out. It was fully furnished and had a full kitchen. All we had to do was spruce it up with a little elbow grease.”
His parents, Vicky and Wayne Williams, have visited often to help get the eight-month-old diner off the ground.
“My menu is very similar to theirs, though theirs is larger because they have more storage and a bigger kitchen,” William said.
The menu, a collection of mostly traditional diner fare, is plenty big enough, based on a recent visit. The breakfast and lunch items are available all day until closing time, 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
We were there during the lunch hour and ordered the mushroom Swiss hamburger steak ($8.99) and the chicken-fried steak ($11.99), along with a bowl of three-way chili ($7.99) to share later.
Not many places will cook ground beef to order these days (Goldie’s Patio Grill is among the exceptions) and insist on cooking the patties until they resemble, as my wife likes to say, charcoal briquettes.
We asked our friendly server, Amanda, to check with the kitchen to see if the hamburger steak could be cooked something closer to medium-rare. She said it could, and it turned out to be delicious, juicy and flavorful and topped with melted Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms.
The chicken-fried steak was not too heavily breaded and was fork-tender. It had virtually no gristle and a nice flavor. The cream gravy was fine but a little bland, so I added a touch of black pepper. It’s always easier to add than to take out.
In addition to the mashed potatoes, our other sides included tender pinto beans and a huge basic salad of lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese.
The three-way was a mellow mix of spaghetti, chili and beans topped with cheese and onions. We also had placed a to-go order of beans and cornbread, but only the cornbread showed up when we got home. I did like the two thin cornbread muffins that had a touch of sweetness to them.
The breakfast menu offers a sizable selection of omelets and other egg dishes, sandwiches, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, French toast, pancakes, hash browns, etc.
Among the dinner entrees are grilled beef liver and onions, grilled pork chops, sirloin steak, catfish, hot roast beef and chicken bites.
Daily specials include meatloaf, Tuesday; chicken-fried steak, Wednesday; spaghetti, Thursday; catfish, Friday; and Kitty’s chicken bites, Saturday.
Randall’s also has a free pickle bar with dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, spicy green tomatoes and banana peppers.
Randall’s has taken advantage of its spot on Route 66 by filling the walls with all manner of Route 66 memorabilia, along with a collection of license plates, model cars and a few antique items. Music from the 1950s and ’60s plays in the background.
The restaurant has three dining areas that hold a total of about 90 guests.
“We can handle some pretty big groups,” Williams said. “We already have car groups, school groups and church groups meet here. We also have regulars who eat here several times a week.”
Sapulpa also has free two-hour street parking, always a big plus in our book.