PAWHUSKA, Okla. - The town of Pawhuska is seeing tourism once again after being shut down due to COVID-19 for about two months.
The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile reopened on Thursday just in time for Memorial Day weekend crowds. They are implementing social distancing policies such as checking in to the restaurant, making people stand six feet apart while waiting in line, and setting up their tables further apart than usual so nobody is sitting close to another group.
Other local business owners say they were excited to see Ree Drummond’s restaurant reopen so the tourism will pick back up again.
Osage Outfitter’s owner Callie Lee said they were able to have a little business by appointment when the local cowboys needed new hats or boots, but they’re counting on the summer tourism to bring them back up to where they should be financially.
“The tourism has been wonderful of course they help us, everyone that comes to town and supports the small businesses helps,” Lee said.
The Mercantile’s general manager Kurtess Mortensen said the Memorial Day crowds in the past have been much larger, but they’re happy to see smiling faces walking through their door today.
“I think that was the toughest part of this whole thing was watching the town empty out again, we like to see the town busy and Pawhuska doing well, that’s part of the eagerness to open again,” Mortensen said.
Tourists from California, Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Arizona, and more say they came to town just for the weekend to get out of the house and couldn’t be happier with their destination choice.
9-year-old Chelsea Erman visited Pawhuska with her family to go eat at The Mercantile. Erman said she is Ree Drummond’s biggest fan and is so happy that she and her family can be a part of putting Pawhuska back on their feet.
“The Pioneer Woman is my most favorite cook and this town is just so full of life,” Erman said. “We ate breakfast here this morning and we are going back for lunch and dinner because it was delicious.”
Most of the shops and restaurants here are back to normal business hours and say they look forward to seeing you stop in.