Local, Fresh and Innovative.
Editors Note: From time to time we look for innovation going on around us. Innovation is more than buying something for a dollar and selling it for two. Innovation is creating something new where there was nothing before. A new way to create, a new way to organize or a new way to do something. This week, we are looking at the Rolling Fork Takery. The Rolling Fork Takery: Local-Fresh Take-Out.
The Takery, yes that is “Takery” not “Bakery” is in a building that has seen several restaurant incarnations over the years. It’s an old subway car that was repurposed into a fresh foods deli for Skip Copeland's bucket list idea of "the Takery" to become a reality in June of 2017. Because the restaurants premise was so innovative Skip’s wife, Shellye, didn’t know whether if it would work. “The joke was if it doesn’t work we will eat good for a year and flip the property,” laughs Shellye. Even though things are changing locally it is still difficult to find non-fried, natural foods that are not loaded with growth hormones, antibiotics or fillers. “So we try to source many of our foods as locally as possible to keep them fresh,” Shellye says as we sit down at a table in one of the multi-level outdoor dining areas at the Takery. ”Nothing is overly processed, no hormones, nitrites or nitrates in our meats. This is a very casual, self-service concept, not fine dining, so most of the customers money is going into high quality ingredients without having to pay for a wait staff, bussing and cleaning dishes. It’s farm to fork and everything is served in very simple recyclable packaging. Skip Copeland, who retired as a corporate accountant, had the original concept of the Takery. He always believed that there was a way to manage the cost of high end ingredients, but the problem, for Shellye at least, was that food service was really hard and she wasn’t sure she knew what they would be getting into. “He had a vision and felt strongly that it would work,” she said. Two years later with an ongoing 5 star rating on YELP, and several other customer rating platforms, it seems Skip was right. “Yes, he was right and I was wrong.” She grinned. Skip had spent about ten years using their home as a test kitchen as he worked to understand which type of wood produced the most nuanced flavors. “Here, all the meats are smoked in house the old fashioned way, like our grandparents did. With the younger generation avoiding the industrial food chain that guarantees food to be quick and fast (and sometimes tasteless) Shellye believes the time is right for a Takery. “They want their foods to be real,” she says. “The trend is to eat healthier,” Shellye reiterates, “The younger people don’t want the highly processed foods of our generation. Organic may sound like a new trend, but it is simply old fashioned farming.” Shellye and Skip are very familiar with Southeast Oklahoma and Southwest Arkansas, they knew a lot of regional farmers and producers where they could source fresh foods. The Takery deals with a variety of different entities from individual farmers and bee keepers to farmer’s markets, organic co-ops, food service and wholesalers.
Although the main clientele is tourists, there are many locals who are either trying to eat healthier or have been put on restricted diets by their doctors making eating healthier not just an option but a way of life. They also get a lot of support from both the cabin owners and cabin cleaners. Shellye says that the cleaners love the healthy deli options because they can grab and go and keep it in the cabin refrigerators while they are cleaning. On the other hand, the cabin owners want to be in their cabin as soon as possible after the drive to get here. "They don’t necessarily want to cook, they want to relax or work on their cabin when they are here and our nutritious foods provide a nice convenience for them," she said.
The backbone of the Takery is their online presence. “If you have placed your order and paid online, you don’t have to order in house and then wait until it is ready, you just pick up your order when the digital menu tells you to and go or take it out back and eat,” smiles Shellye. For example, a couple leaving from Dallas can place their order in advance and pick it up hot hours later when they arrive in Hochatown.
The digital menu at www.Hochatown.net is optimized for smartphones so ordering is user friendly and easy without the need for an APP. Customers may also order in house like a traditional restaurant even though the "Takery” concept is specifically designed for take out and there can be an "eat in" wait time in the busy lunch hours. “It’s not unusual to have a full house here for lunch. Everyone is always welcome to eat at the Takery or take it to the lake, river, cabin or camp,” she said. “It’s nice to have options." Rolling Fork Takery just celebrated a second year anniversary in 2019, so it looks like they are here to stay and help folks “eat good and feel good" about what they are eating.