Greater Tulsa Reporter
RIBBON CUTTING: Broken Arrow civic leaders and others participated in a ribbon cutting on Jan. 30 for the new White River Fish Market and Restaurant in B.A. Tom Clark of White River cuts the ribbon with B.A. City Councilor Mike Lester. From left are Vice Mayor Richard Carter, Chamber Board Chair Eric Kehmeier, EDC Board Chair Ted Cundiff, Mayor Craig Thurmond, Clark and Lester, Tom Cleator of White River, J.J. Lester, Chamber President Wes Smithwick and City Manager Michael Spurgeon.
ROSSY GILLE for GTR Newspapers
Broken Arrow civic leaders and others participated in a ribbon cutting on Jan. 30 for the new White River Fish Market and Restaurant in B.A., located at 1105 E. Kenosha St., which is at the southeast corner of 71st Street and Lynn Lane in the County Line Shopping Center. This is the first expansion in the restaurant’s over 80 year history.
This new location is over 7,200 square feet, which is almost 50 percent larger than their current location 1708 N. Sheridan Rd. Broken Arrow City Councilor Mike Lester has worked on this project for over six years to bring White River to B.A. He says, “I viewed no less than eight or nine different sites, none of which worked out for one reason or another. Then one day I drove past this shopping center which really stuck out as being one that mimicked their current location in many ways. After nearly two years of negotiations and issues that at times seemed to almost be insurmountable, we have arrived at the day we knew would finally come.”
Lester says, “White River was founded in 1932 by O.T. Fallis as a fresh fish market only, which derived its name from the river in Arkansas from which it got most of its fish. A restaurant was added in 1942. It was first located at approximately First Street and Boston Avenue in downtown Tulsa but moved to its current location on North Sheridan in the early 1960s in a nondescript shopping center.
“In 1981 it was purchased by Garry Cozby, a Texas transplant, who embarked on a 28-year career as proprietor of White River, prior to his death in 2009. For years prior to his death, businessmen Tom Clark, president of Tulsair Beechcraft, and J.J. Lester, VP/CFO Tulsair Beechcraft, whose operation was only one mile north of White River, would eat lunch there and tell Garry, ‘any time you’re ready to sell, we’re ready to buy.’ Upon Garry’s death, the administrator of his estate pursued Clark and Lester as to their interest in acquiring the establishment. Of course they immediately set in motion what they describe as one of their best business moves ever.”
Mike Lester, Broken Arrow vice-mayor at the time and commercial broker with Newmark Grubb, began to court White River to come to downtown Broken Arrow long before the Rose District was even under consideration. It soon became apparent that there was no building suitable within the core downtown area and, more importantly, not sufficient parking to handle the more than 600 average customers that visit White River each day. Lester says that is one of the reasons this location stood out: the abundance of parking, as well as the “glass store front” which is much like that of the one on North Sheridan Road.
Lester says that there is an abundant population surrounding the location for its success. He says, “Flight Safety is across the road with its 850 employees, and there is extensive retail growth in and around this location. Another plus is its proximity to the Broken Arrow Expressway, which will make ease of access from the entire Metro area, especially those living in the southern region, which typically felt it too far to travel to North Sheridan location.”
Operating hours are Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Lester adds, “The restaurant will serve the freshest grilled, baked or fried fish, along with all the trimmings, to be found anywhere in Oklahoma.”