Best of OKL 2020
The readers voted and the results are in. Discover the best of the best!
Hurts Donut Company
By Hayley Leatherwood
Oklahomans travel from far and wide to get a taste of the “rebel of all donuts” at Hurts Donut Company in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Customers can satisfy their donut cravings and get a unique experience courtesy of the fun staff and festive atmosphere. Vibrantly colored artwork, crazy LED lights and fun music greet sweet seekers at the door, but what takes the cake are the over-the-top indulgent donuts in the case.
With staple names like Andes Mint, Fruity Pebbles, ET and Cotton Candy, it’s clear each flavor has its own personality. The most popular product is the Maple Bacon, a delightfully sweet long john covered in crispy, savory bacon.
Every product is made fresh in stores. Nothing is shipped frozen or machine made in these kitchens. The donuts are created from high quality dry goods and are finished at the hand-decorated donut station.
Photo by Hayley Leatherwood
“We’re not just a donut, we’re a dessert,” owner Sara Maulsby says. “That’s why we say our shops are open ‘25 hours a day, 8 days a week.’”
Darci Freeland, a TCEC member, says Hurts is worth the trip. During her daughter’s time at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, the shop became “their place.”
“Hurts was always a fun place to hang out with our daughter when we would go visit,” Freeland says. “The shop’s character and the atmosphere are so happy.”
Maulsby says the best part of being involved with Hurts is the commitment to investing in community. The brand supports the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and donates 50 cents from every water bottle sold. They provide a “heroes discount” to local military and partner with groups to help them meet their goals.
“My all-time favorite piece of this company is helping Oklahomans with fundraisers,” Maulsby says. “Whether it’s a football team that needs uniforms or a youth group wanting help with a mission trip, we can sweeten the deal with our donuts.”
Don’t worry if there’s not a shop near you. Hurts’ “emergency donut vehicle” is an actual ambulance wrapped in donut sprinkles that delivers hundreds of dozens of donuts around the state. To learn more, visit https://www.wannahurts.com.
Best MIO Product
Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce
By Laura Araujo
From family picnics to barbecue competitions, Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce is sure to make your grilled goods a win.
Since 1947, when Head Country was created in a Shidler, Okahoma, kitchen, the barbecue sauce has been a favorite with Oklahomans. Though Head Country is now distributed coast to coast, it is still made with pride in the Sooner State.
“We are proud to be a Made in Oklahoma Company,” says Natasha Ball, Head Country director of communications. “We are thankful to have an adoring fan base and a wonderful relationship with our customers.”
The Ponca City, Oklahoma, production facility is much expanded from the kitchen where the company was birthed, but the product still very much has a family touch. C.R. Head is often seen in the building, working with clients and customers. Ball says the sauce is well-loved because of its balanced flavor and perfect consistency—not took thick or thin. For many Oklahomans, it also carries a sense of nostalgia.
“I think it’s popular and loved in Oklahoma, because people’s grannies put it on everything they ate. It brings with it those feelings of tradition and closeness,” Ball says.
Today, Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce comes in six varieties: original; hot & spicy; hickory smoke, chipotle; apple habanero, a favorite with competitive barbecuers; and sugar-free, the newest sauce which caters to long-time fans who might need to avoid sugar. Head Country also produces a marinade and several seasoning blends.
Though the company has grown and expanded significantly over the past 72 years, Head Country retains its core values of providing good food as loved ones gather.
“From birthday parties to family reunions, we are honored to be part of the most important gatherings of friends and family,” Ball concludes.
For more information, visit www.headcountry.com or, better yet, pick up a bottle Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce in your local grocery store and enjoy!
Best Western Outfitters
By Zoe Petersen
In 1965, businessmen James and Pat Cavender hung up their aprons, gave up their jobs flipping burgers, and began dabbling in retail sales. They opened their first western wear shop “Boot City” with only three different styles of Tony Lama boots.
By the late ’70s sales were going so well they expanded their stock to 7,500 boots from a liquidating boot company. The first Cavender’s was born in Tyler, Texas, and quickly spread to numerous surrounding cities.
Patrons weren’t the only people enjoying what these brothers were pushing. The up-and-coming country icon George Strait partnered with Cavender’s in 1987, sending the “Urban Cowboy Craze” of the ’80s to new heights.
Though Cavender’s now has nearly 80 locations in 11 states, over 20 different vendors for footwear, it is still family owned and operated. Old photographs of James, Pat, and their families can be found hanging on the walls of any location you visit, as well as dated black and whites of their grandparents on their ranches in Idabel, Oklahoma, and Albany, Texas.
Photo by Zoe Petersen
“We work hard, but if it weren’t for our awesome customer base, it really wouldn’t matter how hard we worked. This is all for them,” says Kirby James, the Oklahoma City manager, who has been a part of the Cavender’s work family for over 15 years.
Even though boots are what made Cavender’s who they are, their inventory of quality clothing, hats, belts, and beautiful leatherwork makes them the perfect place for folks of all walks to treat themselves. To find something that satisfies the cowgirl or cowboy in you visit https://www.cavenders.com/
Best Cheerleading Squad
Stigler High School Cheer Squad
By Gail Banzet-Ellis
The Stigler High School Cheer Squad is a group of 19 varsity cheerleaders who compete at the 4A level in the southeastern part of the state. Each year the squad attends two main competitions; in 2019, Stigler placed third at its regional meet and third at state.
“We set a new school record in 4A cheer,” said Angie Citty, the squad’s head coach and Stigler High English II teacher. “That’s the highest placement we’ve ever achieved at state.”
Cheer is a demanding, year-round sport, but football season is one of the busiest times of the year. The team also travels to all varsity basketball games. Every summer, the squad attends a choreography clinic and a regional cheer camp. In November, Citty’s seniors competed in an individual event for all-regional cheerleaders. Both girls advanced to the all-state competition where 64 girls from the eastern part of Oklahoma and 64 from the western region cheer to represent one of the top 16 cheerleaders from each side of the state. In addition to the squad’s individual and group accomplishments in 2019, Citty, a 17-year veteran cheer coach who has spent the past eight years at Stigler, was named Regional Coach of the Year by the Oklahoma Coaches Association.
“I was overjoyed to receive this prestigious honor,” she said.
The community and Stigler High’s administration strongly support the squad and are involved in its events and activities. Citty said many of the girls advance to cheer at the collegiate level in Oklahoma, including her assistant of three years, Morgan Bryant, who is a key asset to the team’s success. Like sisters, the squad holds a strong bond and has each other’s backs through the entire cheer experience.
“They’re very dedicated,” Citty said. “They work so hard and give up so much of their own time making sure that their skills and techniques are the best.”
Best Italian Restaurant
By Zoe Petersen
Roma’s Italian Restaurant in Idabel, Oklahoma, is a story that goes beyond pizza and pasta.
Sixteen years ago, Burim Krasniqi, lovingly nicknamed “Benny,” immigrated to the U.S. from eastern Europe with a suitcase of ambition and a duffel bag of determination to make his dreams come true.
With a father from Albania and a mother from Sicily—both of whom expressed their love through food—Krasniqi felt most at home in the kitchen and found his purpose feeding those around him. Five short years after moving here, Krasniqi opened his own restaurant.
Krasniqi has since expanded the dream of Roma’s to several successful locations, though he focuses primarily on his Idabel location, where he is raising his young family.
“The community embraced me,” Krasniqi says. “I had to make Idabel home.”
The menu is a collection of guest favorites, with an emphasis on rotating specials and traditional classics that will satisfy anyone’s cravings. Everything is made from scratch with care and only the freshest of ingredients are used to ensure that guests have the best experience possible.
Whether you are in the mood for a small appetizer of stuffed mushrooms, a full plate of the Linguini Tutto Mare, or just have a sweet tooth for the Limoncello Mascarpone Cake, you can’t go wrong with this menu. When you eat at Roma’s, you are supporting the hard work of immigrants who are keeping the American dream alive and preparing it with merit. To find your favorite dish, visit http://www.idabelroma.com/
Holy Holstein Boutique
By Gail Banzet-Ellis
The Holy Holstein Boutique has become a popular attraction for locals and tourists in Broken Bow since it opened its storefront in September 2018. Store owner Charlee Walls had previously operated an online boutique, and when a similar shop along Highway 259 went up for sale, she quit her full-time job and bought the space to transform it into the Holy Holstein. Since then, store profits have doubled, and she has curated her inventory to offer something for everyone.
“We offer home décor, clothing, jewelry and shoes, and we do floral arrangements for funerals, wreaths and any kind of floral sprays,” Walls said.
The boutique’s $8.99 T-shirts are a bestseller, and Walls said their $1 variety items bring in a lot of business, but one of the distinct qualities of her store is its Christian section.
“That’s where the ‘holy’ part of our name comes from,” she explained. “That, and I’ve always liked Holsteins, and we once had a Holstein that we bottle-fed.”
The store attracts church groups and women’s retreats traveling through the area as well as local shoppers who are frequent customers. Patrons are spoiled and every purchase is gift wrapped.
“We’re customer-based,” Walls said. “We know our customers—what size they wear, what they like. If we get something in, we send them a picture of it, and if husbands come in, we help them shop.”
With her employee, Dorothy, Walls hopes to continue serving customers from near and far and maybe even expand someday to a second location
“I’ve been blessed,” she said. “God’s been good to me and business.”
Visit the Holy Holstein Boutique at 1504 South Park Drive, Broken Bow, OK 74728 or call 580-584-6130 or view them on Facebook.
Best Art Teacher
Kristy Patterson | Guymon High School
By JuliAnn Graham
Art is woven into every aspect of Kristy Patterson’s life. Patterson, OKL’s “Best Art Teacher” winner, is a native of Guymon and a member of TCEC (Tri-County Electric Cooperative). She has taught beginning and advanced art classes at Guymon High School for 20 years. She is a professional studio artist represented by galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Durango, Colorado. Her husband Michael is an artist in his own way: he has a theater degree and teaches speech and debate at Guymon High School.
“Her passion for art is just amazing,” one of her advanced art students said.
Patterson says she has been an artist since she was young. After high school, she went to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford for a degree in graphic design.
She spent 25 years in social work and incorporated graphic design into her role. She transitioned into teaching by serving as a substitute teacher until a full-time position opened.
“Teaching is the family business,” Patterson said. “I come from three generations of teachers and my three daughters are teachers.
“The students are the best part of teaching. They become lifelong friends. It is so exciting to love something and be able to share it.”
Photo by JuliAnn Graham
Outside of teaching, Patterson has taken her passion for art into the Guymon community. She and her husband were founding members of the Guymon Community Theatre in 1979. Today, they continue to be involved in the theater, helping produce the sets and directing productions.
Art has colored Patterson’s life richly—from being her chosen profession, to teaching it, to giving it back to the community. Art is part of who she is.
By Gail Banzet-Ellis
Coleman’s All-Beef Burgers in Okmulgee is a triple threat. Not only does the restaurant serve juicy supreme burgers made from fresh ground chuck, they also offer the tastiest homemade onion rings and a delicious assortment of baked goods. From cookies to coconut cream and apple pies made from scratch with a secret family recipe, Coleman’s has been a crowd favorite since the original restaurant opened in Okmulgee in 1955.
“I started working at Coleman’s with my mom and her brother when I was 14,” said Alice Holleman. She and her husband, Randy, currently own the restaurant. “I was going to go to culinary school at OSU-Okmulgee, and Uncle Marvin told me he could teach me to make better pie than they could, so I started working with them.”
Alice and Randy purchased the store in 2004 and moved it to its current location in the downtown area. The business is still very much in the family; Alice’s youngest son, Benjamin, cooks the burgers, and her daughter, Katy, and grandson, Grant, are heavily involved. She said her grandson is working to take the store’s famous Coleman Cookie, a giant treat made of oatmeal, pecans and chocolate chips, national or maybe even global. “They help a lot and might take over the restaurant someday,” Alice said.
A household name for more than 60 years, Coleman’s hosts customers from Tulsa, McAlester and all of Oklahoma. Holleman enjoys seeing the familiar faces in her restaurant, but the best part of the business is working with family. “It wouldn’t be the same without them,” she said.
From the week before Thanksgiving through the Christmas season, Holleman and her family fill hundreds of orders for pies and baked goods. Reserve a sweet treat for a special occasion or order a pie for Valentine’s Day next month by calling 918-756- 0560. You can also visit Coleman’s All-Beef Burgers at 118 N Seminole Ave, Okmulgee, OK 74447 or find them on Facebook.