Reba McEntire recently celebrated the grand opening of Reba’s Place. This restaurant, bar, retail store, and live music venue is located in the country music icon’s home state of Oklahoma, in Atoka, a town with a population of just 3,250.
This isn’t just any new business venture, this is something that was created from the heart, and features plenty of bits and pieces of McEntire’s life story throughout each level.
“Music and the fans helped build this place and get it all together. And that’s what a restaurant is all about, where people can come in, visit and eat,” McEntire shared in a press release. “Reba’s Place is a joint venture with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and they are the best partner. It’s exciting to work with people who have a passion for this town and for creating jobs, tourism, and new opportunities in southeastern Oklahoma, in the community where I grew up.”
The concept for a restaurant came to light after the famed singer/songwriter found herself back home and healing from the loss of her mom, Jacqueline, in 2020.
During this time, she reconnected with the memories of her past and realized just how much the state really does mean to her
“I stayed in Oklahoma to help settle up the estate and clean up Mom and Daddy’s house,” McEntire exclusively told PEOPLE. “I got myself reacquainted with everyone in the state and the love that I have for the state of Oklahoma.”
While it wasn’t her idea initially, she became keen on the concept that has now been brought to life. Customers can expect to find a plethora of details that represent Reba McEntire from the menu to the gift shop and even the third-floor library, which is lined with her mom’s books, to keep her legacy alive.
“We took all of Mama’s books and made a library into it, so people can come in, get a book, and read a little bit. Very nice atmosphere where they can sit and visit and also have a drink,” McEntire said. “She would’ve loved that. Books, they were her treasure. They were something that she hoarded. She would be thrilled.”
This level also features a speakeasy that is used as McEntire’s dressing room when she’s on-site.
The menu lists plenty of must-have comfort items that McEntire grew up with in southeast Oklahoma like sweet tea, green chile cornbread, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, and banana pudding. A few country music-themed items are also offered, such as the Grammy award-winners “Fancy” steak dinner, and “Reba’s personal favorite,” pinto beans and cornbread.
“I told them, ‘You got to have great iced tea. Great bread. I want chicken fried steak. Chicken fried chicken. I want beans and cornbread,’” McEntire shared. “I gave Chef Kurtess my recipe for my smashed potatoes with caramelized onions and garlic. And have to have good drinks. That’s very important.”
Even the staff members have revealed how Reba’s Place has made them feel right at home when they come to work each day. Certain sections of the restaurant on the second floor are furnished with church pews that were brought in from churches that once stood behind the new venue.
One of the servers told The Dallas Morning News that she can still see some of her niece’s teeth marks in one of the pews from when she would attend mass inside that church.
In partnership with the Atoka city council and the Choctaw Nation, the three-story restaurant was built inside a century-old Masonic Temple. With this welcoming place on the map, Atoka is already experiencing an uptick in visitors. Reba’s Place will have live music regularly, highlighting entertainers from towns all around southeast Oklahoma. Guests can expect to see live performances during both lunch and dinner.
“This will turn around our town,” said Carol Ervin, economic development director for Atoka. “We were really struggling. This is the catalyst project we need.”
“We’ve had people calling us every day, from California, from Ohio,” she added.
As she welcomed customers into the 13,284-square-foot venue for the first time, McEntire was joined by her supportive boyfriend and co-star, Rex Linn. During the grand opening, she performed several songs including her signature hits, “I’m a Survivor” and “Fancy,” and showed her gratitude for everyone who had a part in making this venture come to life.
“I am so proud of everyone involved, even the patrons, the people, my friends, relatives, people from Texas, Northern Oklahoma, out of state, even, who have already come to be at the restaurant, to taste the food, give great reports, hear the music, the merchandise, everything,” she says. “It’s been very successful so far without even having a grand opening. We’re thrilled. We’re just beyond thrilled.”
Now that she has kicked things off in Oklahoma, Reba is preparing to hit the road for the spring leg of her Reba: Live in Concert Tour. This set of shows will begin on March 9 in Jacksonville, FL, and wrap up on April 15. For her final stop, McEntire will make her debut at NYC’s iconic venue, Madison Square Garden.