Queenie’s, one of the most popular eateries in Utica Square since 1985, has been sold to a former employee.
Ruth Young has sold Queenie’s to Brian Hughes, who was a manager at the restaurant in the 1990s.
“We are excited to welcome him back,” according to a post on Queenie’s Facebook page. “Brian is enthusiastic to carry on the tradition of the same great quality Queenie’s is known for.
“Thank you, Ruthie, for all your years of good food and wishing you a happy retirement.”
Heather Smither, who has been with Queenie’s for 15 years, said she will stay on as general manager. Marilyn Thompson, a recognizable figure behind the counter for decades, also will continue to work, according to Smither.
Most fans of Queenie’s likely are unaware it did not start in Utica Square. The late Nelson Kifer, founder of Stonehorse shopping center (Center 1 today), leased space to Young to open a walk-up coffee shop in 1982. In 1983, she opened Queenie’s in space where Café Ole is today.
Two years later, she said, Utica Square owner, the late Walt Helmerich, persuaded her to open a second location in his shopping center where Fabulous Foods used to be.
“I had both for about nine months, then Mr. Helmerich said he thought I would be more successful if I was here full time,” Young said in a previous Tulsa World interview. “He was right. I didn’t have a dime at the time, and it turned out to be a good decision.”
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