Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lebanese Steakhouses

I was raised on steak and tabouli.  OK maybe not raised on it but I have known and loved tabouli as well as appreciated a great steak all of my life.  I know this is due to my dad who was a master barbecue enthusiast and who was from a part of Oklahoma where Lebanese immigrants settled before the turn of the century.  Those immigrants brought with them their recipes from their homeland and introduced them to their new friends and neighbors.  By the 1920's Lebanese families resided in 42 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.  Take Bristow in Creek County, for example.  Lots of descendants in this community where there are not one but two tabouli manufacturers AND they have a Tabbouleh festival every spring.  Another county with a large Lebanese population is Payne County.  My dad was from Cushing which is just down HWY 33 from Drumright, OK.  At most of our family gatherings there was almost always someone who brought tabouleh.  By the way, there are probably as many ways to make this salad as there are to spell it and  I included several versions of it in my cookbook.  I haven't met a bowl of it yet that I didn't like.  

Other popular dishes that caught on and seem to go hand-in-hand with a perfectly grilled steak are cabbage rolls and hummus dip.    And speaking of steak.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The reason for many of these steakhouses generational success is due to the steaks.  The quality, the cut, the flavor and the way they are cooked- usually hickory grilled- make them a piece of heaven.  If you have not ever tried any of these restaurants that are in or near Tulsa, allow me to introduce them to you.  If you have already eaten at one or all of them, read on for some history as I sort through all of those that are named "Freddies" and clear up any confusion as to who is related and who is not.

Jim Elias opened his first restaurant in Bristow.  His first Tulsa restaurant was located on 11th Street, his second at  27th and Harvard, named Jimmy's.  

In 1957 he relocated again to a house on 51st Street for the next 50 years, changing the name to the Lebanese version of Jim- Jamil's.  I ate many meals at that spot and recently tried the new place down the road on a Saturday night.  It was all (still) great. These days Jamil's sons Tyrone and Bernard own and manage Jamil's. 
Jim Elias opened a Jamil's in Oklahoma City in 1964, again in an old house built in the 1930's.  Son Tyrone ran it for awhile, then nephew Greg Gawey took over in 1976.  Jamil Elias passed away in 1978 with restaurants in Houston and three in Dallas operating.   
When Jim moved out of the Harvard location, his brother Eddy moved in and began his restaurant career calling it Eddy's.  He stayed there for 2 years and then opened the Eddy's we all know today on 31st and Jamestown.  This was also a house that at one time had cattle out behind it.  Architect Ted Murray remodeled it into the restaurant it is today.  
This portrait of Eddy hangs in the restaurant:

My husband and I celebrated an anniversary there one time and were so full we could hardly waddle out of there.  Best ribeye I've ever had. Eddy II and his brother Steve run their father's restaurant. Brother Gary helped his dad open Eddy's and came up with the cabbage roll and tabouli recipes used today.  And another brother of Eddy and Steve's -Chris Elias- ran the Eddy's in Oklahoma City which opened in 1967 and closed recently.

Freddies Bar-B-Que
Freddies in Sapulpa actually started 2 miles south of Drumright, OK (Hwy 16) when Fred Joseph opened a little cafe to serve oilfield workers.  In 1972 he sold it to his nephew Ed Slyman who operated it until a tragic fire burned it to the ground and Ed relocated Freddie's to Sapulpa (1425 New Sapulpa Road). Recently some of us (volunteers) from the Historical Society met at Freddies for lunch.  Awesome food.


After the fire, Fred and another nephew Joe rebuilt the restaurant renaming it Joseph's.   Joe and his wife Kathy operated it for many years before passing the torch to current owners Jamey and Elizabeth Martin.  
My husband and I go several times a year to Cushing to watch their Community Theater productions.  They offer an almost extinct feature there- a dinner theater, where you can eat a delicious steak dinner then watch the play.  Joseph's is the caterer for these and it's always very good. 


Freddie's Steak House in Mannford and Freddies Supper Club in Drumright are owned by a different Lebanese family- the Salibas.
Fred and his wife Amelia Saliba began their restaurant business back in 1946 on Main Street in Drumright.  In 1956 they bought a dinner club west of town and moved into it, calling it Freddie's Supper Club.  
Interesting side note: Amelia's sister and brother-in-law once owned the Cedars and the Chalet restaurants as well as the Harvard Club and the Cup Club here in Tulsa.

Freddie left the restaurant to his son Paul in 1969 and built another Freddie's Steakhouse on the shores of Keystone Lake, located 1/2 mile east of Mannford on Oklahoma 51.  His son Rickey took over operation of it in 1976.  In addition to great food, this location also offers lakeside cabin rentals as well. This is one I have not yet tried but plan on doing so very soon and will update here when I do.


Freddie Paul's

Freddie Salibas' grandson Brian opened another steakhouse in Stillwater, called Freddie Pauls.  When my daughter was attending OSU we always made it a point to stop and eat at Freddie Paul's.  We still do if we are anywhere near. Wonderful, wonderful food.
I hope that I have cleared up some of the confusion about all of the Freddie's restaurants that are around here.  One thing for certain: they are all good!  

Got steak?


DrillerAA09 said...

I remember eating at the Jamil's on 51. You entered through the kitchen. Great food.

Anonymous said...

As I was reading some of the history of early Tulsa [ironically, finding out that a young cousin owns one built by an early engineer & founding father of Tulsa], my cousin is ALSO a TU graduate AND engineer, I clicked on the 'Freddies' link and lo & behold found all this history, including my brother's establishment in Sapulpa, Freddie's in over 30 years. I am delighted to find this link.

Nancy said...

And I'm happy you found it, too!

Anonymous said...

Do you have the barbeque Sauce recipe used at these restaurants in your cook book? If so, how do I get a copy of the book? I have looked for years for the recipe. Thank you.

Nancy said...

I wish I did have it, but alas, I do not.

Anonymous said...

Does your cookbook include the recipe for Josephs cabbage roll?

Nancy said...

It has a recipe for Jamil's cabbage rolls, but not Joseph's.