There is no sweeter smell in Turley than that of a fresh, hot cobbler that has just been pulled out of an oven inside the Cobbler Mom kitchen. Learn more about Cobbler Mom below.
Find this and other stories in this month's Tulsa World Magazine, available TulsaWorldMagazine.com and in magazine racks across Tulsa.
If you time the visit right, you’ll be greeted by a rich peach scent.
Or maybe it will be the hot cinnamon-apple aroma wafting toward the entrance when you push open the door at 6645 N. Peoria Ave. The smell only gets stronger as you walk to the counter, where there’s a glass case of sweet potato pie, as well as a pineapple cream pie. It’s known as the “Mystery Case” because the options are always random and constantly changing. If that’s not overwhelming enough, the smell of baked chicken and vegetables drifts through the service window a few feet from the register. Cobbler Mom, which opened in January, is more than a random dessert store in this tiny township on the northern outskirts of Tulsa. Cobbler Mom is one of only three restaurants in a 5-mile radius in Turley. The other two are a Simple Simon’s to the south and a Daylight Donuts about a mile to the north. There are neighborhoods and businesses along Peoria in each direction, so when owner Joyce Horton decided to open a storefront, she also increased her offerings to include a lunch menu.
“I felt the people here really needed something good to eat.”
“Good food makes people comfortable and happy," Horton said. "They can be having a bad day, and good food makes everything go away for a while.” Since 2015, Horton has operated Cobbler Mom as an online retailer, selling fresh cobblers by the jar. She prides herself on the fact her cobblers do not include preservatives. That’s what kept her from an opportunity to sell her dessert in a local grocery chain. She shrugs it off, saying there will be other opportunities, like her current venture in Turley. In the photo, Frank Durbin (left), Charles Rickner, Mary Watson and Jackie Rickner eat lunch at Cobbler Mom.
The business started in Owasso, where Horton lives with her partner, Deborah.
Looking to expand it into a Tulsa storefront, Horton returned to the stretch of road for which she’s had a fondness for as long as she can remember. Peoria Avenue runs from Sperry in the north to Jenks in the south. It’s the first major artery road east of downtown and the main avenue for many of the city’s oldest mansions, including what is now Philbrook Museum. Near the middle rests Brookside, or what some longtime residents still call “The Restless Ribbon.” It’s nearly 2 miles of restaurants, ranging from burger joints to fine dining. There are boutiques, national retailers and art galleries along the strip.
Brookside was also nearly home to Cobbler Mom.
So was the historic Greenwood District in downtown. Horton considered both, but neither option felt right, so she kept driving north past her old stomping grounds where her family established roots at 46th Street North and Kenosha Avenue. She recalls they were the second black family on the street. She remembers being obsessed with the root beer from Bud’s. There were her friends who lived up and down the road. Her school days in the area culminated with a 1982 graduation from McLain High School. In the photo, Joyce Horton laughs with customer Jackie Rickner.
As Horton’s real estate quest continued north, she discovered there weren’t really any options for someone to go out and enjoy a meal.
Then she spotted the building that held Butler’s BBQ before it closed in 2014. The structure needed a lot of love to serve people. The roof needed to be replaced. The ceiling was caved in. The paint was faded and chipping. Horton said she knew she had found her new home for Cobbler Mom. “I grew up in this area,” Horton said. “I used to go fishing near here. I wanted that country feeling. There is a lot of love in the country.” She’s now been open six days a week for six months. The hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Business has increased as word of mouth has spread throughout the nearby neighborhoods.
"Nowhere surpasses the love of this woman and how she prepares her food."
"I have lived in north Tulsa for over 70 years, so to see a business such as this in the area where I don’t have to travel far to get my meal that’s healthy, always bodacious, it’s delicious and it’s in a place where I feel comfortable is outstanding. I’ll be a customer for life.” — Nelda English, a former longtime Tulsa Public Schools employee, a local civil rights leader and currently Cobbler Mom’s biggest cheerleader.
While her food brings lots of people a lot of happiness, spend enough time talking to Horton and one learns the reason she cooks is because it makes it her happy.
It takes her back to her childhood at that house off 46th where she watched her mom and dad cook and couldn’t wait to be old enough to help. Her dad worked as a cook for Nabisco, and before he’d go in, he would make eggs for breakfast, always showing off how he could flip them in the pan. She remembers how her mom would cook without recipes and then get frustrated when a young Horton asked for specific directions. In turn, she looked to her aunt for help teaching her how to cook family recipes. Horton said she later realized her mom struggled with recipes due to the fact she could barely read.
While Horton didn’t go into the food business, food business was a constant part of her life following her 1989 graduation from Spartan School of Aeronautics.
Whether it was her job working on C-17s for McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California, or on the Chrysler assembly line in Detroit, Horton sold baked goods on the side and did lots of cooking for fundraisers. Part of it was passion. A lot of it was extra money to help her as a single parent to her son, Jordan Horton-Williams, as she worked multiple jobs. Sometimes as many as four at a time. It was Jordan who, while attending Virginia Tech, discovered cake in a jar and immediately called his mom to suggest she do the same with her cobbler. He later created her logo, her website and her social media accounts in his free time. Horton said her dad always harped at her to get out of the factories and get in the kitchen. His terminal cancer diagnosis is what brought her back home. His demand that she finally chase her dream is what led to her starting a new career.
“He used to always say, ‘Use your gift so you don’t have to work as much.’ ”
“I wish he could have seen this before he died. He’d be so happy to see me happy.” Horton has big plans. This restaurant is only the next step in the process. She’s looking at more retail opportunities and would like to expand to more locations, but she said this one will always be open as long as she keeps working. “I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the community,” Horton said. “Cooking is like therapy to me. My food brings people comfort and happiness. I’m not going anywhere.” Joyce Horton's story is part of the latest Tulsa World Magazine's series "Street by Street," where we are telling the stories behind some of city's busiest streets. Peoria Avenue starts in Sperry where it's also known as Oklahoma highway 11. It travels through Turley and north Tulsa, becomes the Pearl District with its new breweries at Sixth Street and goes through some of the most expensive real estate in Tulsa in midtown. It ends at the river, almost in Jenks.
Where to eat on Peoria Avenue: Brook Restaurant
In Brookside, make sure you eat at the Brook Restaurant and Bar, 3401 S. Peoria Ave., a converted movie theater from the glory days of the Restless Ribbon.
Where to eat on Peoria Avenue: Chimi's
On Cherry Street — 15th Street — check out Chimi's, one of Tulsa's oldest Mexican restaurants. This location used to be an elementary school.
Where to eat on Peoria Avenue: Bramble Breakfast & Bar
And on Sixth Street, the Bramble Breakfast & Bar now anchors the Pearl District with an inventive take on eggs, pancakes and cocktails.
Where to have fun on Peoria Avenue: Woodward Park
Woodward Park, 21st Street and Peoria Avenue, is the place to go for family photos with its many spring flowers and azaleas. Also find the rose garden and Linnaeus Teaching Garden on the grounds, and the Historical Society next door.
Where to shop on Peoria Avenue: LivyLu
LivyLu, 1316 E. Sixth Street, is a cute boutique with Tulsa-themed shirts.
Where to drink on Peoria Avenue: Cirque Coffee
Explore the Sixth Street and 11th Street areas for other fun boutiques and stop at Cirque Coffee, 1317 E. Sixth St., for a great drink afterward.