CHEROKEE EATS: Urban Station
Cherokee Nation citizen Neal Boatright, left, and his wife Lori are the owners and operators of Urban Station in Fort Gibson. The restaurant, which serves American-fare foods, has been open since March 2017. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Redneck pizza is a specialty pizza that contains a barbecue-based sauce topped with little smokies, bologna, bacon and mozzarella. COURTESY
The Gator pizza is a specialty pizza made with smoked alligator meat, Cajun seasonings and a Cajun corn and bean medley on top of Boudreaux’s Swamp sauce. COURTESY
The daily lunch buffet includes an array of pizza choices and is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Urban Station in Fort Gibson. COURTESY
A salad and soup bar is included in the daily lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Urban Station in Fort Gibson. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Urban Station is a two-story business where the restaurant sits on the second floor overlooking downtown Fort Gibson. The business resides in a 112-year-old building with a rustic atmosphere that reflects the building and town’s history. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Urban Station co-owner Lori Boatright serves a young patron his food order on Nov. 13. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A gift shop resides on the first floor of Urban Station in Fort Gibson. Customers can see how the Boatrights are preserving history with the original stenciling on display above the shelves and various historic items lining the walls. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A dessert area along with a toy-and-candy area sit in the north room on the first floor of Urban Station in Fort Gibson. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Neal and Lori BoatrightEstablished:
101 North Lee St. in Fort GibsonHours:
From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday (buffet only)Food Type:
American fare that includes pizza, sandwiches, soup and saladSpecialties:
Daily lunch buffet, Redneck pizza, Gator pizza and Chick Magnet pizzaPrice:
$4.95 to $19.95 per mealAtmosphere:
86-seat main dining area, 72-seat event roomContact info:
918-203-5077, Urban Station on FacebookWhy they started the business:
After owning a few businesses and having close ties to Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation citizen Neal Boatright wanted to help revive the town’s economy.
“We came in with the intentions of trying to give back to Fort Gibson, trying to start an economy and save these buildings because I cared about (them). I cared about this town because of our family connections. I opened it up with the intentions of expanding other businesses, and I knew nothing brought in foot traffic like a restaurant. This building is so unique that the opportunity of having a restaurant upstairs overlooking downtown and having a gift shop downstairs, I knew it was something that people would come a long ways to see,” he said. “If we were doing it for the money, we would have opened up in Muskogee or Tahlequah or somewhere where there is a larger base. But we did it here because of our passion for preserving this town and trying to actually bring this town back to life.”Preserving history: Urban Station is set inside a 112-year-old, two-story building that once belonged to Neal’s grandfather in the 1930s. When Neal had the idea to open Urban Station, he wanted to preserve the history of the building by utilizing some of its original material as well as secondhand materials found in the surrounding area.
“I didn’t want to do restoration because when you’re doing restoration you’re putting new materials back into it and it might look the same as it did originally, but doesn’t show it’s present state. So I wanted to preserve the building in its present glory to show what it looks like as a 112 year old building,” he said.
He said when he first started on the building’s interior he power-washed the walls for two weeks and got down to the original stenciling that can be seen on the first floor.
“I’d work all day and then come home at night surf the Internet on Facebook Marketplace and on Craigslist looking for historic items, especially that might have pertained to this area. They’re hard to find. I’ve actually had a lot of people in the community that want to preserve history so they’ve saved items that might have had a connection to their family or this town, so they brought them to me, and I preserve them here. People can see them,” Neal said.
Urban Station specialties: The Redneck pizza is a barbecue-based pizza topped with little smokies, bologna, bacon and mozzarella. Created by Neal, he said he selected the ingredients to put an “Okie spin” on pizza and it contains “everything a redneck likes.”
The Gator pizza, only available in size large, contains smoked alligator meat, Cajun seasonings, and a Cajun corn and bean medley on top of Boudreaux’s Swamp sauce.
A daily lunch buffet is available where patrons can enjoy pizza, soup (tortilla, baked potato and tomato bisque) and a salad bar.
“Pizza’s a science. You go and change the sauce, the rest of the pizza’s going to taste different. You get a cheaper mozzarella cheese it’s going to make it taste different. It’s the ingredients. You put high quality ingredients, and it’s going to make it taste good. But if you want to be different, if you want to stand out, you do your own thing,” Neal said.
More than a restaurant: Not only is Urban Station a restaurant on a second floor that overlooks downtown Fort Gibson, patrons can also enjoy browsing the gift shop, toy store, candy area, or grab dessert such as ice cream or shakes on the first floor.
“We try to do the best we can, and when people come in here they’re going to have the best all-around experience with the atmosphere of the building, with the quality of the food. And we train our staff to make a personal connection with everyone that walks in that door,” Neal said.
The name Urban Station also reflects the sub-businesses within it.
“It took us about two or three months to come up with that name. I think I give my wife credit for that. Once we came up with it we knew it was a perfect name to encompass the whole thing,” he said
Urban Station includes a 72-seat event room that can be reserved to host an array of events from birthdays and baby showers to reunions and weddings.
Future plans: Amid the hustle and bustle of running a business, Neal said he hopes to soon apply to become a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified business. He and his wife also plan to serve craft beers in the near future.
“At this point we’re just doing our best to market this and to grow this and to bring the foot traffic to downtown,” Neal said.