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Table Talk


G-Pa’s is a home away from home in downtown Harrah. Photo by Mitch Steichen


G-Pa’sGood eats and grand memories I


Harrah By Mitch Steichen Photo by Grant Leatherwood Braided


t was not long into Jason Hill’s fi rst year of owning G-Pa’s that he felt support from the people of Harrah, Okla. After buying the recently renovated diner on Church Street last year, he heard input from the com- munity on what the building meant to them. The café, once known as Maggie’s Kitchen, had served country-style cooking for more than 50 years until it closed in 1995. “I had people fl ocking in and telling me,


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Chicken Fried Steak Photo by Hayley Leatherwood


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‘This is what Maggie used to do; this is what Maggie used to make,’” Hill said. “So I tried to harness those ideas and honor what she would have wanted, something the community want- ed, something that would be familiar to them.” By all accounts, he and his wife, Stephanie, have accomplished their mission so far. Jason, originally from Ada, Okla., grew up on a dairy farm where he started cooking at the age of 8. It would not be long before he jumped head fi rst into the food industry, working for com- panies like Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A. When he met Stephanie, they moved to Harrah, and he felt a calling to start his own restaurant. “Within a couple of weeks of living here, I got tired of going to fast food restaurants,” Hill said. “We saw a need for more local places, and we looked to fi ll that need. We’ve tried to es- tablish a place where people can come get a good, home-cooked meal, at a reasonable price and leave happy.” Those home-cooked meals come in a real variety of dishes. G-Pa’s quickly became known for its country fried steak, an Oklahoma staple, but within the past couple of months they’ve expanded their menu. The Panther Burger, named for Harrah’s high school mascot, is piled high with just about every ingredient found in the kitchen. As a nod to the commu- nity, Hill said for every Panther burger pur- chased, they donate a dollar to the school. Over the past year, they’ve raised nearly $1000. G-Pa’s goes beyond its menu, giving custom- ers choices for every day of the week. From


Chicken Parmesan Wednesdays, Fried Catfi sh Fridays, Meatloaf Tuesdays and Smothered Hamburger Steak Thursdays, there’s something to satisfy every patron. Monday has become a special time for the diner though. “Monday has become THE day,” Hill said. “It’s our second busiest day behind Sunday and it’s all because of our hand-battered, bone-in, fried chicken. I use my mom’s simple recipe, which is just some fl our and seasonings, all mixed together. I dip the chicken in the fl our mixture, dip it in buttermilk, dip it back into the fl our mixture and then deep fry it. It turns out amazing.” The diner serves breakfast seven days a week, including buttermilk pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, eggs and more. Fresh pies are a staple of G-Pa’s as well, with a rotating selection found up on their chalkboard. However, the food is only one part of the Hills’ goal in supporting the Harrah community. “We have a divine passion for giving; we feel it’s our purpose,” Hill said. “I feel that God put me here for a reason and that he gave us this restaurant. I’m trying to give back to the community.” That giving spirit led the Hills to host a free


Thanksgiving meal last year at G-Pa’s, where they served more than 200 people. Their giving spirit also meant a toy collection at Christmas, when they partnered with the sheriff’s depart- ment, police department and the fi re depart- ment, of which Jason is a member. After receiving hundreds of toys, they distributed them to the town’s children for Christmas us- ing the old fi re rescue truck, fl ashing lights and all. They plan to continue both traditions this year, expecting 500 people for the Thanksgiving dinner, and already partnering with Dollar General for a donation of more than 300 toys for Christmas.


“I have a lot of passion and love for this place,” Hill said. “I know where this restaurant is going and I know we’ll be able to do terrifi c things for the community. That’s our goal and we’re excited for all the great things to come.”


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