Reba McEntire’s new business venture – a restaurant, dining, bar, entertainment, and retail venue called Reba’s Place – is now open in the country music icon’s home state of Oklahoma. And, while it appears the idea to start a restaurant has so far been a success, the “Fancy” singer admits she never planned on becoming a restaurateur.
All of that changed, however, after she lost her beloved mother, Jacqueline to cancer in 2020 at the age of 93. McEntire, 67, found herself spending more time back at home in the wake of her mother’s passing and during the unexpected World Health Crisis.
“I stayed in Oklahoma to help settle up the estate and clean up Mom and Daddy’s house,” McEntire told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “I got myself reacquainted with everyone in the state and the love that I have for the state of Oklahoma.”
It was around that time when McEntire says she “was approached about a restaurant concept designed to revitalize tiny Atoka’s downtown.”
On Thursday, (Jan. 26), that concept was brought to life in partnership with the Atoka city council and the Choctaw Nation. McEntire, with her boyfriend, actor Rex Linn celebrated the grand opening of Reba’s Place Restaurant and marked the evening as a family affair.
The three-time GRAMMY award-winning artist was amongst her relatives, including her niece Lucchese Luchsinger – who was a bartender for the grand opening – and her sister and brother-in-law Susie McEntire-Eaton and Mark Eaton – who performed. McEntire also performed live for the grand opening.
Although the event was closed to the public, fans were able to join via a live stream at the link here.
Reba McEntire Pays Tribute To Late Mother In Reba’s Place With Library Of Books
Even though her mother couldn’t physically be a part of the celebration, McEntire made sure to add a personal touch to the three-story, 15,000-square-foot dining, bar, entertainment, and retail venue, hosted on a former Masonic temple. The “Fancy” singer pays a heartfelt tribute to her mother on the third floor of the building with the inclusion of a library, which features books Jacqueline had collected throughout the years.
“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.”
What Are Must-Have Food Items On The Menu At Reba’s Place?
Another highlight at the Atoka-based restaurant, located at 319 East Court Street and situated about midway between Tulsa and Dallas, includes must-have menu items crafted by chef Kurtess Mortensen. Those items include, in McEntire’s words, “great bread,” “great iced tea,” and “fried chicken.”
“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.”
Of the restaurant atmosphere, McEntire says it’s “knocked out of the ballpark.”
“We wanted music — on a small stage. Not big bands. Not big loud. It’s going to be something that people can remain eating, visiting, while the music’s going on,” she explained. “I will go in and do some music, singing, absolutely. It has to be friendly. It has to be great food.”
Along with opening her brand-new restaurant, McEntire is starting 2023 with a busy schedule.
The country superstar, who is currently nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Does He Love You – Revisited” featuring Dolly Parton), recently starred in a new Lifetime movie, The Hammer.
Additionally, Reba McEntire will soon kick off the spring leg of her “Reba: Live in Concert” Tour. The spring run begins on March 9 in Jacksonville and will end at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, marking McEntire’s first time playing the iconic venue.