Momodou Ceesay Grows Restaurant, Promotes Area
By EMILY RAMSEY
EXPANDING CITY AND BUSINESS: Momodou Ceesay, owner of Mamadou’s Restaurant and mayor of Glenpool, stands in his restaurant, 14751 S. Casper St. in Glenpool. Ceesay opened the restaurant in 1996 and plans to open a location in downtown Tulsa by the end of the year.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
For many Glenpool residents, being on a first name basis with the city Mayor is far from unusual. It’s not uncommon to see him on a regular basis at his name-sake establishment Mamadou’s Restaurant, 14751 S. Casper St., which sits along U.S. Highway 75 in Glenpool.
Serving as Mayor of Glenpool allows Momodou Ceesay simply to do more of what he loves: interact with people and further the interests of the city, where he has lived for 14 years, although quite a distance from his native Gambia, West Africa.
Ceesay’s fellow city councilors voted him as Mayor of Glenpool in 2013 after he joined the city council in 2012.
He opened his restaurant in 1996 after spending 12 years as a manager at Steak and Ale. He chose to spell the restaurant’s name phonetically as the way that most Oklahomans pronounce it, he says, which is slightly different from the true pronunciation.
Ceesay originally came to Oklahoma from Gambia after being encouraged by his cousin who was recruited to play soccer at Rogers State College (now Rogers State University).
His interest in the restaurant industry began during his time as a student at Rogers State College. He got a job working in the cafeteria, and “I found that I really liked interacting with people and enjoyed the excitement I got from cooking,” he says.
Therefore, after transferring to Oklahoma State University, he changed his major from business administration to hotel and restaurant management.
The chorus of greetings and well wishes that fill the restaurant when Ceesay is around proves that he is truly the people person that he claims to be. “I love having people always around me,” he says. “It excites me to go around talking to people.”
That camaraderie that Ceesay breeds with his customers is, additionally, brought about by the presence of his children and wife who work at the restaurant, which encourages customers to feel like they are members of the family and take ownership of the restaurant, he says.
“I brought in a new one,” is a phrase Ceesay hears often from restaurant customers, referring to a person they’ve brought for the first time to the restaurant.
In addition to his responsibilities as a business owner, Ceesay uses his role as mayor to continually look for ways to encourage growth of the burgeoning city.
Currently, there are three new housing additions coming to the area that will bring 274 homes and an upscale apartment complex. The city recently announced the coming addition of a Starbucks location along the Highway 75 corridor, with more announcements to come, Ceesay promises.
He hopes to see more retail development in the future, which will generate more sales tax for the city, as Glenpool’s population grows.
In the meantime, he remains focused on his business as he prepares to open Mamadou’s in downtown Tulsa. The restaurant will sit in a building that is connected to the Aloft Hotel.
Ceesay’s current customers don’t have to worry about any changes at the new location, though; he plans to maintain his current menu. “We’ve been in business for 18 years. I want to keep what works,” he says.
Ceesay was approached by the partners in the Aloft Hotel about opening his restaurant downtown.
“They told me, ‘We don’t know if there’s any place like Mamadou’s downtown,’” Ceesay says.
He hopes to open in Tulsa by the end of the year.