CHEROKEE EATS: Harmony House offers meals in 100-year-old tearoom

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Former Reporter
06/04/2018 04:00 PM
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Harmony House owner Mandy Scott grabs a cupcake out of the display. She said the business offers treats in its bakery such as cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies and bread pudding that are made from scratch daily. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Harmony House offers daily specials and desserts, but is well known for its grilled chicken sandwich. It’s made with homemade pita bread, grilled chicken and cheese before being topped with Harmony House’s homemade honey mustard dressing. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Muskogee resident Kristie Testerman eats lunch recently at the Harmony House. She said she and a friend have gone to Harmony House every Tuesday for the past 12 years. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott owns the Harmony House, a tearoom lunch spot located in a century old building in Muskogee. It was first a home, then bank and church before being converted into an eatery. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MUSKOGEE – When Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Scott took ownership of the Harmony House tearoom in 2017, she kept things business as usual.

“I have the same wait staff. Some have been here five, six, seven years. The kitchen staff is exactly the same. Everybody has pretty much stayed on since I’ve taken over,” she said. “Everything has just been really smooth and a good transition from the previous (owner) to me, and it’s just been great.”

Scott said she always dreamed of owning a restaurant, and once Harmony House became available, she approached the previous owner without hesitation. “I’ve always kind of wanted my own restaurant, and this was a perfect opportunity for me, just for its history here. It’s a very prestigious landmark for the city of Muskogee. I’m a dreamer, and I believe if it’s something you want to do, you at least need to try it.”

Scott said the building is more than a century old and functioned as a home, bank and church before being converted into a tearoom lunch spot. “It’s a tearoom where ladies from all ages come in and have lunch with their best friend or mothers or daughters. It’s definitely a woman’s atmosphere, but we have a lot of men that come in here too because our food is just so good.”

Harmony House is known for menu items such as hot chicken salad and its namesake club sandwich, though Scott said the “top” item is the grilled chicken sandwich made with chicken, cheese and homemade honey mustard dressing on homemade pita bread.

Daily specials are also offered. “Every day you get a special. It comes with soup or salad and you get a dessert included with that,” she said. “Everybody has their special days where they want to come in on ‘their’ day for their favorite.”

Harmony House also has offerings for those with a sweet tooth. “Our cupcakes are offered every day and then cinnamon rolls. Bread pudding every day as well, and then we have a pie every day. One of the top-selling (items), besides cookies, are lemon bars, and those are made fresh every week. Those are kind of our staple desserts, and then I try to add in some other kind of bar, like a monster bar every now and then,” Scott said.

Friends Kristie Testerman and Martha Hogner have eaten at Harmony House every Tuesday for the past 12 years.

“We love the food, the atmosphere, the people,” Testerman said. “I think it’s the only kind of tea house or tearoom-type restaurant that is left in Muskogee. The old owner started it, and then when Mandy took over, nothing changed. The transition was good.”

Testerman said she’s a fan of the homemade curly fries, as well as the burgers and desserts.

“Surprisingly they have a great burger. They’re delicious. It’s homemade buns, so their bread is always usually really good, really fresh,” she said. “In the summer, we always love to get the pies, and of course, the cookies. Everyone loves Harmony House cookies.”

Hogner, who also brings her husband to Harmony House, said she has her favorites dishes, too.

“You can’t beat the cookies and their dessert,” she said. “Their bread pudding is to die for. We also like the special, the hot chicken salad, and we just learned to love the Katie’s Creation. That’s our new favorite. Service is great. Everyone is very friendly.”

Harmony House is also certified with the CN Tribal Employment Rights Office, and of its 13 employees, at least half are Native American, including the two top bakers.

“Over half my staff are Native American, so that’s important to me as well,” Scott said. “It’s important because I feel like we’re unique. We are not, per se, traditional Cherokee food, but we do have a different type of food that would be good to incorporate in any party or event that Cherokee Nation would have, especially for our desserts.”

Harmony House is located at 208 S. Seventh St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Cherokee Eats highlights Cherokee-owned eateries and their specialties. Send suggestions to brittney-bennett@cherokee.org.

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