The Branch – the eatery formerly known as Town Branch – will be a new upscale restaurant in Tahlequah, Okla., offering seafood flown in weekly from the Gulf Coast, a 12-beer tap and an upstairs outside dining area. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee citizen brings fine-dining restaurant to Tahlequah

The Branch – the eatery formerly known as Town Branch – will be a new upscale restaurant in Tahlequah, Okla., offering seafood flown in weekly from the Gulf Coast, a 12-beer tap and an upstairs outside dining area. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The interior of The Branch is still a work in progress, but Brian Berry, owner and Cherokee Nation citizen said the fine-dining restaurant will be open mid-April. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROEKE PHOENIX
The Branch – the eatery formerly known as Town Branch – will be a new upscale restaurant in Tahlequah, Okla., offering seafood flown in weekly from the Gulf Coast, a 12-beer tap and an upstairs outside dining area. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY JAMI MURPHY
04/04/2011 07:10 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and business owner Brian Berry is expecting to open his new fine-dining restaurant The Branch, formerly the Town Branch Eatery, in mid-April.

The Branch is located at 505 N. Muskogee Ave., and will offer everything from hamburgers and steak to seafood.

“It will definitely be an upscale restaurant. It will be the only restaurant in town that will have fresh seafood flown in on the weekend from the (Gulf) coast. It will be a menu like no menu in Tahlequah has to offer,” Berry said. “If you want a nice glass of wine or drink, or if you want to order a $100 bottle of wine, this is probably the only place in town that you’ll get that.”

He said beside it offering an upscale dining experience, The Branch is something families can be excited about when dining out.

“…You will find hamburgers, hot dogs on there and a daily lunch special like fish and chips, things that everybody can afford, but it will be a fine dining steakhouse every evening with white table cloths. The hamburgers will still be on there, but if you want a $50 steak it will be on there too,” Berry said.

He said an added bonus to the food will be the atmosphere.

“There is a lot of history down there as you look over the creek and look at the Seminary Hall. It has something that none of the other places have.”

Berry said the purchase of the property wasn’t a planned one, but a coincidental meeting between him and its previous owner.

“I wasn’t looking for it. It was just a chance meeting that had happened, and I got excited after I bought it and went down and decided what I was going to do with it.”

Since buying it, he’s had the restaurant gutted, floors resurfaced, bathrooms switched and there are now two bars instead of one – a coppertop bar and a wooden bar with a 12-beer tap. But the prize of the restaurant is the double fireplace.

“There is an extensive rock fireplace that opens up into both rooms that came out of an old schoolhouse that was donated to me. I probably couldn’t afford to even buy that rock if you could even find it.”

Another addition was an upper balcony, which Berry predicts will probably cater more to the college crowd.

Fifteen years ago, Berry said this restaurant would be beyond its time. Tahlequah wouldn’t have been ready for a high-class restaurant, but it is now, he said.

He said people currently leave town for fine dining, but when The Branch opens, they won’t have to.

The Tahlequah native said owning a business isn’t new to him. He’s been a partner in a law office and operated a plant nursery. Berry said the only advice he would give about opening a business is to have a good education and protect your credit.

“…education gives you confidence to do this kind of stuff, and I think it’s attainable by anybody,” he said. “If you’re asking for advice, protect your name, your good word and protect your credit. You do that and people will look forward to doing business with you.”

jami-custer@cherokee.org • (918) 453-5560
About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/22/2014 03:43 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Something new has been added to the four-day “Will Rogers Days,” marking the Nov. 4, 1879, birthday of Will Rogers and the 1938 opening of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. A “Mid-Afternoon Frolic” amateur talent show will be Sunday afternoon from 2-4. Open to the first 20 applicants, cash prizes will be $150, first place; $100, second place; and $50, third place. Applications are available on the website at www.willrogers.com or at the Museum admissions desk. The “Frolic” is a take-off on Will’s vaudeville days when he performed in the “Midnight Frolic” variety show on the roof of New York City’s Amsterdam Theatre. “Will Rogers Days,” begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, with a parade through downtown Claremore and continues with the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club traditional program including a wreath laying and a lunch at the Memorial Museum. Headlining the parade will be Alaska & Madi, a Tulsa duo who competed in The Voice as part of “Team Blake (Shelton).” Parade entry forms are available on the Claremore Reveille Rotary website. Cash incentives are offered marching bands. Monday, Nov. 3, is “Children’s Day” at the Museum. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. school children are invited to tour the museum. Schools are required to make reservations to assure available space. A magician has been added to the list of activities that includes popular Cherokee storyteller Robert Lewis, trick roping, sing-a-along, old-fashioned games, coloring and refreshments. Roger’s birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 4, will be a day for a group of area school children to enjoy the ranch near Oologah, where Rogers was born, and to celebrate his 135th birthday. Kowboy Kal, a champion trick roper, will entertain. Oologah-Talala students, directed by Kim Grazier, will present her original musical of the life of Will, which will also be presented during “Children’s Day.” The program starts at 10 a.m. and ends about 11:30 a.m. with birthday cake and cookies. All events are free and open to the public.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/22/2014 01:52 PM
COLCORD, Okla. –The Cherokee Nation recently donated a 2009 Honda Accord to Colcord Public School in order to help the school continue its driver’s education program. The school previously leased a car from the Ford dealership in Stilwell but no longer had that option due to budget constraints. The donated CN car was previously used as a government vehicle. Colcord Public Schools Superintendent Bud Simmons said he was grateful for the tribe’s donation. “Without the gracious donation by Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell and the Cherokee Nation, Colcord Public Schools would have had to discontinue the driver’s education program,” Simmons said. “The tribe basically saved the program for our school.” According to a CN Communications press release, Colcord Public Schools has approximately 625 students enrolled, with nearly 50 students participating in the driver’s education program each year. Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said having a driver’s education program is essential for school systems. “I’m happy Chief Baker and the tribe were able to help continue the program so that Colcord students could get safe driving instruction,” Snell said.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
09/19/2014 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Entry-level Cherokee Nation employees will see their wage increase from $9 to $9.50 beginning Oct. 1 when the tribe’s new fiscal year begins. By executive order, Principal Chief Bill John Baker raised the tribe’s minimum wage to $9.50 on Feb. 24, 2014, and ordered it to go into effect Oct. 1. The order raises the minimum wage for employees who have been employed by the CN for at least six months, provides for staggered increases for the minimum hourly wage, and it encourages other CN entities to implement a comparable wage increase. CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said by raising the tribe’s minimum wage, Chief Baker “pushed wages up” overall throughout the tribe’s government and businesses, meaning current workers would see their hourly wage increase and would not be making the same wage as someone just hired by the CN. “We really raised it because Chief Baker thought it was the right thing to do. The buying power of our minimum wage just wasn’t what it used to be. We needed to make sure our entry-level employees had a wage that they could make a living on,” Hoskin said. The tribe’s minimum wage is $2.25 more than the state’s minimum wage of $7.25. “When we can pay our entry-level employees a competitive wage we really do them a favor, but we really do the whole nation a favor because we raise the quality of life among all our people,” Hoskin said. “It’s important because we want the folks that are entry-level employees to be able to make a living. We want them to be able to put money aside for savings, be able to pay their bills.” He added the CN and its businesses also offer an optional benefits package for employees that include health and 401(k) retirement benefits that the CN and its businesses contribute to for an employee. Last March, the Cherokee Nation Businesses Board of Directors answered Baker’s challenge and unanimously voted to also increase its minimum wage to $9.50 an hour for its businesses, which also goes into effect Oct. 1. CNB Vice-President of Human Resources Bob Thomas said current CNB employees would actually receive an increase of more than $9.50 to prevent “compression.” “We would take that rate all the way up to people making $10.35, it would be a sliding scale, and it would give us the opportunity not to have any kind compression going on where we have somebody that’s been here a year or two making $9.50 an hour all of sudden making the same amount as a new person that comes in,” Thomas said. Board member Jerry Holderby said a study commissioned by the board shows what a CNB employee is making in total when other benefits are included like incentives, bonuses, health insurance, and employer contributions to 401(k) retirement plans. The study showed minimum wage CNB employees were actually making $13 an hour if they took advantage of all the benefits offered by the company. “Folks out in the communities, Cherokee and non-Cherokee, have expressed appreciation (for the minimum wage increase). You have to remember with 9,000 employees we are all over northeastern Oklahoma, so if our people are earning a better wage that helps the communities and the buying power of families. It’s really a win-win for the whole region,” Hoskin said.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
09/19/2014 01:28 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) – A U.S. senator threatened the NFL with legislation over Washington's nickname, a letter was dispatched to the other 31 team owners, and the issue was linked to the league's other recent troubles Tuesday as the anti-"Redskins" movement took its cause to Capitol Hill. In a news conference that featured Native American, civil rights and religious leaders, Sen. Maria Cantwell took aim at the NFL's pocketbook by announcing she will introduce a bill to strip the league's tax-exempt status because it has not taken action over the team name. While prospects for such a bill becoming law would be tenuous, the inevitable hearings before lawmakers would enhance the spotlight on a movement that has gained substantial momentum over the past two years. "The NFL needs to join the rest of America in the 21st Century," said Cantwell, D-Wash., the former chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "We can no longer tolerate this attitude toward Native Americans. This is not about team tradition. This is about right and wrong." Overall, the message from the "Change the Mascot" leaders was that they don't plan to go away, despite team owner Dan Snyder's vow not to change the name. They presented a letter that will be sent to every NFL owner except Snyder, asking each to use his "position of authority" to end the league's "promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur." Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said he hoped an owner will take a bold position against the name. He cited Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson, and longtime Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who changed his NBA's team from Bullets because of the violence associated with the term. "We're looking for the Branch Rickey, looking for Abe Pollin," Halbritter said. "They're out there. We know the owners don't share in this, but they share in the profits." Halbritter had harsh words for the league as a whole, referencing the NFL's handling of health problems suffered by former players, as well as the recent Ray Rice domestic violence saga and the child abuse charge levied against Adrian Peterson. "The NFL is currently facing an integrity crisis. ... While these are different issues, they are joined by a common thread of showing commercial and moral arrogance and a blatant lack of respect for those being negatively impacted," Halbritter said. The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier Tuesday, the league announced that it has hired a former White House official to help the league with legislative issues. Cynthia Hogan will be the league's senior vice president of public policy and government affairs and will be based in Washington. A team spokesman Tony Wyllie responded to Cantwell's proposed legislation by citing a poll in the team's favor. "Our position remains consistent with more than 80 percent of Americans who do not want to change the Washington Redskins name," Wyllie said. The debate over the name could influence the team’s plan to build a new stadium when their lease at FedEx Field, located in D.C.'s Maryland suburbs, expires in 2027. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district's delegate to Congress, said the team would have a hard time moving back to the city unless the name is changed. "I would make every effort in the Congress to make sure they could not come back with that name," Norton said. Snyder has said that the team name and logo is meant to honor Native Americans, and the team has promoted American Indians who say they aren't offended by the name or by the use of the term "redskin" in general. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., offered a counterargument by displaying an 1863 newspaper front page that included the sentence: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory." "It can only be money that motivates the NFL with a slur that harkens back to the darkest days, when a white man could get paid for hunting down and murdering an Indian in cold blood for money," McCollum said. "This team name is a reminder of that brutal violence."
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/19/2014 10:52 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The local Help-In-Crisis shelter in Tahlequah will hold an “All you can eat” breakfast on Sept. 20 at the Masonic Cherokee Lodge 10 located at 121 West Choctaw in Tahlequah. Penny Gifford, Help-in-Crisis volunteer coordinator and event planner, said the breakfast will be from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., will cost $7 and will offer items including biscuits and gravy, pancakes, sausage, bacon and juice. The lodge provides the breakfast and all funds made will be used to help purchase basic living needs for the women and children in the shelter. “Most normally they (abused women and children) have left everything behind,” Gifford said. “We basically help them start their lives over.” Currently there are 33 participants residing in the shelter and of those 56 percent are Native American. Gifford added the lodge will also be matching funds raised during the breakfast. “The more tickets sold the better,” she said. Those interested in purchasing tickets in advance can call the shelter at 918-456-0673. They will also accept money at the door. According to Help-In-Crisis, it was established in around 1980 by a “group of concerned volunteers to provide safety and shelter to battered women and their children.” Its mission is to “eliminate family violence, stalking, child abuse and sexual assault through advocacy, education, counseling, support and prevention services.” They are a non-profit organization and offer a hotline if one is in need of help. Those in need can call 1-800-300-5321. The organization serves Cherokee, Adair, Wagoner and Sequoyah Counties.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/16/2014 10:51 AM
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – The Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival is Sept. 18-21 at the Bartlesville Community Center. The state’s largest intertribal event and cultural exchange features a powwow with both competitive and non-competitive dancing on Friday and Saturday and a juried Native American and Western Art Show and Market, showcasing the talents of more than 30 artists, the <a href="http://www.okindiansummer.org" target="_blank">okindiansummer.org</a> website states. The event will consist of free outdoor concerts, an art market, a carnival, cultural demonstrations, story telling and a Friday and Saturday powwow. According to the website, artist Bunky Echo-Hawk will be a special guest. “A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is a ?ne artist, graphic designer, photographer, writer and a non-pro?t professional,” the site states. “Bunky is a traditional singer and dancer of the Pawnee Nation and an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation.” Christian Parrish or SupaMan, an Apsaalooke American Indian, will also be present during the event. He is from the Crow Nation reservation near Billings, Mont., and is also a champion powwow fancy dancer. There will also be several food vendors, including Monie Horsechief, a two-time National Indian Taco Champion. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. For a line up of events visit <a href="http://www.okindiansummer.org" target="_blank">okindiansummer.org</a>