A Tulsa dining tradition will close its doors this weekend, when The French Hen served its final dinner Saturday evening. Owner Terry Turner says growth in Tulsa's restaurant industry has crowded his bottom line.
KOTV Glenda Silvey talked with Turner about shutting down a place that not only holds memories for him, but hundreds of other Tulsans. Terry Turner says his decision to close the French Hen is traumatic, but he'd tried everything to stop the steady decline in business in recent years. He attributes it to seven new restaurants in his area alone, competition from other events, and location. "I've been tucked away in this corner for 22 years. For 22 years, it's done well, but with so many restaurants opening with frontage on the street, it's eclipsed us."
Turner says his customers are shocked and saddened. "I guess they've probably seen a dwindling room over the past six months and I think they're going to understand, but it's still, you know, it was a favorite place for them and it was a favorite place for people since I've opened." Not all Tulsa restaurants are suffering. Business is brisk at Ricardo's Mexican food, open for 26 years. But owner Richard Hunt says there are challenges. "It's a tough labor market. It has been for sometime now. It's not an easy business, but it's an exciting business - it's a business that moves and it's a free market at its best."
McGill's just opened a second location... and owners say business has surpassed expectations. They say Tulsa is a dine-out city. Hal Walker, McGill's Co-Owner: "We are an eating out group of people because of the busy lives and schedules of families. Eating out is continuing to grow across the board." But not enough at the French Hen, where Turner says the greatest thrill has been meeting customers, helping them celebrate important events, and working with his staff. "To close it is like losing a family member. We've all been very tight."
Turner plans to spend time away from the industry, look for new perspective and see what ideas pop into his head. French Hen customers will be waiting.