Cattlemen’s: A birthday tradition like no other

cattlemens sidewalk
A sidewalk selfie outside of Cattlemen’s Steakhouse on the occasion of my birthday.

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

This quote is attributed to baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra after he was once asked about eating at a famous restaurant in New York City.

Yogi could have been speaking about Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City in 2022.

Credited as being the oldest restaurant still operating in OKC and which once allegedly changed ownership at the roll of some dice, Cattlemen’s remains incredibly popular and busy.

Lunch at Cattlemen’s on my birthday with my wife has been a family tradition of ours for more than a decade.

So, today, on the occasion of my 69th trip around the sun, we made our pilgrimage to the mecca of OKC restaurants.

Located in the Stockyards City area adjacent to the Oklahoma National Stockyards, Cattlemen’s was playing to a full house this afternoon.

Of course.

And we didn’t arrive until 1:30.

But since there were only two of us, we were escorted to a table after a wait of only a couple minutes. Larger groups waited outside on the sidewalk.

The meal was awesome, as always, but what I really go for is the giant yeast roll that comes with the steak. It is my downfall. Oh, and the basket of melba toast that comes out with the salad.

Our waitress was so accommodating and took our photo as we sat at the table, then we followed up with a selfie on the crowded sidewalk outside.

cattlemens inside
Paula and Jim inside Cattlemen’s Steakhouse

As we were pulling out of the lot behind the restaurant after enjoying the meal, we looked around at the many western-themed businesses in the Stockyards City area.

“There wouldn’t be all these businesses without Cattlemen’s,” Paula said as she looked acoss the intersection of Agnew and Exchange.

You’ve got that right. Cattlemen’s definitely is the engine that drives the Stockyards City economy.

It IS too crowded. But people (like us) keep coming year after year. And it’s worth the wait.

Traffic stop on the Lake Road

lake road
The Lake Hefner Parkway

I was focused on the sports radio banter this morning and negotiating heavy traffic on the Lake Hefner Parkway when my 2-year-old grandson began shouting “GiGi! GiGi!”

I didn’t pick up on it immediately.

However, Solomon was relentless from his car seat in the back. “GiGi! GiGi!”

Suddenly, a red Ford Escape cut sharply into my lane just in front of me. I looked at it and thought that it resembled my family’s vehicle. Then the Ford Escape slowed, put on its blinker and began pulling to the shoulder amid the heavy traffic.

That’s when I saw it. The small sticker on the bumper. That WAS our car. Then it hit me why Solomon was shouting GiGi! My wife Paula, his grandmother, had cut us off on the Lake Road and was pulling us over.

So, I pulled in behind her. She hopped out of her car and began running to our car.

I imagined the worst. Had someone in our family died and this is how she was going to break the news to me, here on the shoulder of the Lake Hefner Parkway?

I rolled down my window and she said, “I think I left my phone in your car.”

What?

Apparently, she had left the phone in the car when she buckled Solomon into his car seat. And her phone was critical to her work-from-home job.

After we left for Solomon’s appointment, Paula realized she didn’t have her phone, jumped in the car and began chasing after us. She managed to catch up on the Lake Road, but couldn’t get my attention until she cut me off with Solomon shouting “GiGi!,” his favorite name for her.

Paula crawled into the back seat and said “call my phone.” I called it and her phone began ringing from the back seat. She couldn’t find it and crawled back out.

“Call it again,” she said. I called, and it started ringing. She crawled across the back seat again.

I glanced back and saw it.

Paula’s phone was sticking out of the back pocket of her jeans. It had been there the entire time.

We both (sort of) laughed when we realized where the phone actually was.

And I’ll never let her live it down.

Ten-minute tour of OKC’s Grand Palace

The new OKC convention center looks out over Scissortail Park.

The first thing I noticed about the new Oklahoma City Convention Center as my wife and I walked toward the entrance Saturday was its proximity to everything.

To our left, directly across the street from the Convention Center was the massive Scissortail Park. Next door is OKC’s new Omni Hotel. The OKC Streetcar stop was just north of the hotel.

And to our surprise, we spotted Mayor David Holt sitting on a bench by himself outside the Convention Center. Naturally, we introduced ourselves and posed for a quick photo with him (of course) before walking on.

Now that’s proximity!

Saturday was Open House for the new OKC Convention Center, so I signed us up. Turned out to be an awesome experience, although not just because of the tour.

We decided we had enough time to grab some lunch before scheduled tour time.

As we waited in line to be seated at the Omni’s OKC Tap House restaurant, we spotted some long-time friends I’ll call “Brent and Valeri.”  We joined them in the outside seating area.

It had been years since we had sat down and visited with this couple, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Time passed, and before we realized it, we were 30 minutes past our scheduled tour time.

So, we paid our tab and walk over to the Convention Center. We faced a time crunch because Paula was scheduled to receive her first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine in 45 minutes, with a hard deadline.

That left us about 10 minutes to tour the massive Convention Center.

Remember, this $288 million facility was entirely paid for with MAPS 1 cent sales tax. It features 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 30,000 square foot ballroom, among many amenities.

And it has that new car smell.

So, we rushed to the entrance and were greeted by ushers who pointed us to the escalators. We went up to the third floor.

There we found a long balcony that overlooked the park and featured an awesome view of downtown.

We snapped photos. We turned around and walked into a massive banquet room set up with tables like the dinner was tonight. We took photos. We looked down over the entrance three floors below. We took photos. We poked our heads into a smaller conference room maybe 50 seats arranged around tables. We took photos.

Then we hurried out.

It’s a grand palace, but our mini-tour didn’t do it justice. The vaccine was calling.

We’ll be back.