Sunday, June 25, 2017


Did I mention I have a wonderful husband?  He indulges me my whims a lot.  When I saw that they were allowing free tours of the lodge where they film the Pioneer Woman cooking program and mentioned I would like to do it he offered to take me for my birthday in the first week of January.

He only winced a small bit when I reminded him that the lines to get into the restaurant were often five hours long and wound around the block outside in the bitter cold. Told you he is a wonderful husband.

We took the two hour drive from our campground to the small town of Pawhuska, OK early on a very cold morning.  It had been below zero the night before.  Since we had been warned about the long lines we both dressed warmly.

We arrived for an early lunch and were surprised to see the line was fairly short.  Maybe 20 people crowded around the free standing heaters on the sidewalk, thoughtfully provided by the Drummonds, waiting to get into the queue inside to be seated at a table.

I am told they give out infused ice water and have fans stationed down the side walk in hot weather.  Nice.

To our amazement we were inside in less than 15 minutes and seated within an additional 15 minutes.  I guess the bitter cold kept a lot of folks away.

During our wait we chatted with the hostesses who told us that despite how cold it had been during the week before they had people actually stand in line for EIGHT hours outside. 

While I am a fan, I am not that big of fan.  In fact if the queue had been very long when we arrived I would have picked up my free tour ticket and left.  Gary and I simply don’t do lines if we can avoid it.  We have too much to see and do in this world to stand in long lines.

We were told that Ladd and Ree had tried to buy a nearby building to turn into a hotel with a second restaurant in it as well as the Mercantile one, but the owner was set on turning it into apartments. 

They have been checking out other buildings as well.  They have done a lot for the town economy, that is for certain.

Standing in the indoor queue we couldn’t resist snapping photos of the deli and the restaurant tables beyond.

Once we were seated our service was quick, friendly and attentive without being overly so.  The food, delicious just as you would think, with generous portions.  Judge for yourself on the portion size by the photos below.

While eating our meal I was surprised to see Ladd Drummond walking around and personally handing out the free tickets to the tour.  A server brought us our ticket, shucks.

Ladies, he is more handsome in life than he is on the show.  He was laughing and teasing several of the restaurant guests as he walked through.  Unfortunately we did not see Ree that day.  Oh well I got to see her at a book signing in Tulsa a couple of years ago. 

After we finished our meal the server bagged up the half of sandwich and chips I hadn’t even touched because I filled up quickly on the “Marlboro Man Sandwich” and we went into the actual Mercantile part of the building.

Fun, fun, fun things to look at and buy if you are so inclined.  Everything from old time candy and toys to her exclusive kitchenware.  Most of which you will never see at Wal-Mart.

Love the blouses and jewelry she wears.  The Mercantile carries them.  Buying an item as a gift?  They’ll gift wrap it for you.  It was a fun place to look through, but not very shoestring budget.  But then I didn’t expect it to be.

Other than our meal my sole purchase was a brag rag, my term for a branded piece of clothing.  After all who wouldn’t want to brag they have been to the Mercantile?  

Btw, it was reasonably priced and is so soft and comfy I wear it often. Not to mention it was packaged in this lovely gift bag.

The ticket for the tour also included a turn by turn explanation on how to get to the lodge, complete with landmarks to warn you when to turn.  That’s the way we Okies give instructions, mileage AND landmarks.

It was further out of town than we expected, but not too far. We passed a pasture with these beautiful horses in it as we traveled the last bit.  We were later told these are wild horses that the Drummonds had “adopted”. 

It is back off the highway a bit and larger than we expected. 

We also figured out quickly that the camera crew is very good at their job.  Because Cowboy Josh’s place is just below the lodge at the base of their driveway and there are other worker homes in the area, none of which you see when they are showing shots outside of the lodge.

The roping dummy is right off the porch instead of out in a large open area like the show leads you to believe.  As is Ladd’s grill.  There isn’t really a lot of parking either.

Another thing we learned from Ree’s assistant was at the lodge when we were there is the “house” is actually a decent distance away and not fancy at all.  It is Ladd’s boyhood home.

As you enter the front door one of the first things you see is the pantry they often show Ree gathering food in.  We should all have a pantry like that! It is long and narrow and fully stocked just as they show on tv.

The large kitchen area is to the right.

 A seating area is to the left of the door.  We were greeted by Cowboy Josh’s Dog as we entered.  He had free run of the house along with a few of the family dogs.  Sadly no Charlie who died shortly after we were there.

There is a large family area with a double face fireplace just past the kitchen.  It is all pretty much and open floor plan.

We learned a lot about the show and the behind the scenes action that was going on during a filming.  Here are a few tidbits we learned.

While Ree does create and use the recipes regularly during the show there are actually several people creating the exact same dish in, at that time five mobile kitchens in semi trailers (more on this in a bit).  They use the best looking dish for filming.  Then afterwards they have a crew that cleans up, after everyone eats.

They film several episodes at a time because bringing the mobile kitchens in is a little tough.

The lodge is used mainly as a guest house and did not originally belong to the Drummond family. 

There are at least three cook stations in the HUGE kitchen, but you can tell that yourself by our photos.

Now about the mobile kitchens.  Like I mentioned bringing semis in on the dirt roads to the Drummond lodge is a bit difficult, so the lodge was under construction while we were there. 

Guest rooms, another large pantry, a huge commercial kitchen and bathrooms were being added for the film crew to use when they were filming. You access this area by going down a hallway just off the family area. 

The photos pretty much tell it all. 

It was definitely worth the drive out to get a better idea how the show is put together.  Very interesting, and educational.

Oh, for you fans.  This was not a one time only chance to visit the lodge for free.  They apparently do it periodically between filming.  I know they had free lodge visits available in early June of 2017 as well.  The information appears on the website for the Mercantile when the tours are available. 

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