Tulsa businessman shot during a bank robbery earlier this year talks with the News on 6


Wednesday, November 10th 2004, 11:42 am
By: News On 6


It has been almost five months since the First Fidelity Bank robbery in Tulsa. A teller was killed and the bank's president and a customer were shot.

Tulsa restaurateur Howard Smith was the wounded customer and for the first time since the shooting he talked exclusively with News on 6 reporter Rick Wells about how that day changed his life forever.

It’s a quiet afternoon at the S & J Oyster Company in Brookside and quiet time is what Howard Smith is looking for. "Just wanna take a little time to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life." He survived being shot during the First Fidelity Bank robbery back in June.

His physical wounds have healed but the rest will take more time. I’ve been a little more bothered by it than I thought I would."

He says he has trouble staying focused and is afraid that will affect the business, so he and his wife Michelle and daughter Katie decided to close their very successful restaurant S & J Oyster Company, a Brookside landmark for nearly 22 years. Michelle: "We just want to say thank you."

They estimate that over the years they've served up a million dozen oysters, a million dozen peel and eat shrimp, paid out maybe $10-million in payroll to employees and $3-million in sales taxes. 22 years is exceptional in a business where new restaurants seem to open and close in a matter of months.

He says the shooting has just given him a different perspective. “One of the things it showed me was you have everyday, one day at a time, each one could be your last.” He's just very thankful he says for people who've supported him through thick and thin. "Sometimes the chowder was too thin, sometimes the gumbo was too thick, most of the time hopefully it was good."

Most of the time it was great. Isn't it ironic, that Howard survived the shooting, but the restaurant died.

S & J at 3629 South Peoria will close Saturday night, after that, they're done.