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Okemah Restaurant Serves Up Healthier Down-Home Cooking

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The Hen House Cafe is gaining a reputation for not just its healthy portions, but also its pretty healthy down home cuisine. The Hen House Cafe is gaining a reputation for not just its healthy portions, but also its pretty healthy down home cuisine.
Kristy Lesley, owner of the Hen House Cafe, never really thought she'd be in the restaurant business. Kristy Lesley, owner of the Hen House Cafe, never really thought she'd be in the restaurant business.
It's home cooking like chicken fried steak and chicken and dumplings. It's home cooking like chicken fried steak and chicken and dumplings.
But one thing you won't see in the kitchen is a deep fryer. But one thing you won't see in the kitchen is a deep fryer.
There's also a lot to satisfy your sweet tooth. There's also a lot to satisfy your sweet tooth.
OKEMAH, Oklahoma -

It's known as Woody Guthrie's hometown, but it's also a good place to visit if you're hungry.

Okemah is only about an hour and 15 minutes from Tulsa and well worth the drive to eat at a place gaining a reputation for not just its healthy portions, but also its pretty healthy down-home cuisine.

Kristy Lesley, owner of the Hen House Cafe, never really thought she'd be in the restaurant business. It just sort of happened, 11 years ago, when things slowed down with her antiques store. She started cooking up a limited number of box lunches for workers at a company across the street.

But word spread and other people kept beating those diners to the dinners.

"When they started getting aggravated with me, I thought, 'We've got to make a change and either go big or go home,'" Lesley said.

So they went big. Her husband Johnny built a big cabin with plenty of room for seats.

And the Hen House Cafe has become a hit.

"Love the food, love the atmosphere, love the small town feel," said diner Tanya Thomas.

"We cook like you'd do at home, if you had time," Lesley said.

It's home cooking like chicken fried steak and chicken and dumplings, but one thing you won't see in the kitchen is a deep fryer.

So, it's a little different than most cafes and a little healthier. And the customers keep coming.

"Once they got in the swing of things, it's gone really, really good," Lesley said.

Because the food is really, really good.

Tyler Ragsdale and Jake Seger heard about the Hen House Cafe and came from Pryor to eat there.

"It just tastes like grandma's food," Ragsdale said.

And it's decorated with a lot of grandma's antiques.

There's also a lot to satisfy your sweet tooth. Peanut butter, coconut cream and cherry cheese pies are served every day. Plus, extra-sweet surprises are whipped up, too.

"A lot of people eat dessert first. That way, they make sure they have room," Lesley said.

It's worth a drive to Okemah. Just look for the big cabin with the red roof on Broadway.

"Come down and we'll treat you like family. That's what we try to do," Lesley said.

The Hen House Cafe is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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