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Best Bakery: Merritt’s


By Laura Araujo


he sweet smell of baked goods hangs in the air outside “The Fort,” Merritt’s Bakery’s corpo- rate and production headquarters, which overlooks historic Route 66 in Tulsa. Inside the 12,000-square- foot facility the Merritt family and many of its 80 employees are hard at work, 24 hours a day. However, 1979 saw a completely different picture. Larry and Bobbie Merritt purchased a 400-square- foot bakery, named “Cake Box” where they decorat- ed cakes and struggled to make ends meet for their young family. Though Bobbie had learned to bake from her grandma, neither had any formal training. “The fi rst winter, Larry started baking cinnamon rolls so we could buy groceries,” Bobbie said. Now in its 33rd year of business, Merritt’s is well known in the Tulsa area – and throughout Okla- homa. So what is it that has led to Merritt’s success, such that Oklahoma Living readers recognize it as the best bakery in the state? Even during the diffi cult early days Larry had a vision for the bakery.


T In 2001, self-taught baker, Larry, earned a Master


Merritt’s Bakery is a locally owned business located in Tulsa. Larry and Bobbie Merritt opened the bakery in 1979. Photo by Laura Araujo


By Laura Araujo


efore entering the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, visitors pass by a life-size bronze statue of a man drawing his bow, ready to release an arrow into the sky. Renowned Native American sculptor and Oklahoma native, Allan Houser (1914-1994), cast Sacred Rain Ar- row in 1988 to tell a story of the Apaches, who during an unrelenting drought chose the young warrior to shoot a rain arrow into the heavens so the gods would hear their prayers and send rain. It’s such pieces that make the Gilcrease Museum unique, not only in Oklahoma, but also in the world.


B


“We pride ourselves in having world’s largest collec- tion of art of the American West,” said Melanie Ham- ilton, communications manager for the Gilcrease Mu- seum.


The museum began as the private collection of oil- man, Thomas Gilcrease, who during his European travels in the 1920s and 30s, developed an interest in


16 OKLAHOMA LIVING


Baker certifi cation. He also served as President of the national Retail Bakery Association (RBA), the fi rst Oklahoman to hold the position. Bobbie has been


active in the RBA, teaching cake-decorating skills across the country. She has also served as a judge for the Oklahoma Sugar Arts Competition, which is featured on the Food Network.


Mastery of their trade has allowed the Merritts to expand their product line to more than 300 items – one of the keys to their success. In addition to cakes, donuts, pies and cookies, they make King Cakes for Mardi Gras, fruit cakes for Christmas, a variety of ethnic pastries, Danishes, and more. Family management of the bakery’s daily opera- tions ensures the excellence of their products. “We bake daily. At night we bake the items for the next morning so everything’s very fresh,” Bob- bie said.


Bobbie’s brother oversees the production process at The Fort. From there, the baked goods are dis- tributed to the three Tulsa retail locations, which focus on providing quality service to the custom- ers. The Merritts’ oldest son, Christian, oversees the company’s day-to-day operations and also delivers specialty cakes – a job he has held since he was 15 and a half. Larry and Bobbie are still very involved with the bakery’s daily operations – providing its visionary leadership and implementing new ideas. For information about bakery locations, hours and products, visit www.merritsbakery.com. OL


fi ne art. His American Indian heritage inspired him to amass artwork and artifacts from the American West. In 1955, the City of Tulsa acquired his collection, and in 2008 the City partnered with the University of Tulsa to manage the museum and preserve and advance its collection.


Best Museum: Gilcrease


The Gilcrease’s 400,000-piece collection fea- tures works by well-known artists including Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. Their paintings and sculptures give visitors a sense of what life was like in the West during the days of cowboys and Indians. Special exhibits, such as the upcoming Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebra- tion, which runs from Feb. 5 – April 29, celebrate artists and other important fi gures of the American West. The museum is a destination for art enthusiasts, his- torians and families alike.


“Once a month families can come out for free on Funday Sundays,” Hamilton said. Continued on Page 19


The Gilcrease Museum showcases art of the American West. Photo by Laura Araujo


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