CHEROKEE EATS: Okie Joe’s BBQ
Cherokee Nation citizen Joe Fletcher, owner of Okie Joe’s BBQ in Stilwell, kneels near his smoker as food cooks. Fletcher began Okie Joe’s in 2005 and says he’s known for his brisket sandwich. his fan favorites are the Okie Joe sandwich and the Super Okie Baked Potato. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – After graduating college in Colorado, Joe Fletcher returned to Oklahoma looking to make his next move.
He noticed some barbecue trucks popping up in Arkansas in towns such as Fort Smith and Fayetteville. This made him want to try this new-style eatery in Oklahoma, which led him to start Okie Joe’s BBQ in 2005.
“We had seen them, kind of, this new-style thing, so we decided we’d build one and just try it and see what happened,” he said. “So we actually started up in (West) Siloam (Springs) and stayed there about a year and moved back to Stilwell, where we didn’t know if it would make it or not, and 13 years later here we are.”
Fletcher said Okie Joe’s menu began with items such as brisket sandwiches and baked beans, but has expanded to include other smoked choices.
“We have a Super Okie Baked Potato now where we take a baked potato, open it up, pile it full of meat, cover it with cheese. We have our Okie Joe sandwich. That’s our signature sandwich. It’s got all four meats on it: a slice of bologna, a link cut up and then a little bit of beef, a little bit of pork,” he said.
From its humble beginnings in a trailer, Fletcher has made Okie Joe’s a place you can enjoy no matter the season by adding a deck and a place to eat when the weather is inclement.
“When you come in it’s still a little bit hot or cold on the deck depending on the weather,” he said. “So it’s a place you can come in the spring or the fall and all the screens are open on the deck so it’s like being outside on a porch.”
With Okie Joe’s continuous growth, Fletcher is planning to add a drive-thru window and a larger kitchen space later this year.
“We have a lot of business in the evening. No one wants to get out of their car to take their food home, so we think a drive-thru will help this business,” he said. “So we’re going to go ahead and add a drive-thru and a small kitchen where we can add a few more menu options but still keep the rustic atmosphere that we have today.”
When eating barbecue at Okie Joe’s, Fletcher said there’s “no stranger” that walks through the door.
“We’re a small community here in Stilwell. It is a tough place to make a living, but we have the respect of our customers. We treat them right,” he said. “There’s no stranger when they come in the door. Everybody’s treated well.”
Okie Joe’s BBQ is at 210 S. Second St. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, call 918-696-4637.
Cherokee Eats highlights Cherokee-owned eateries and their specialties. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org