Special to The Sun
Annie Silvers moved to Guthrie in 1998 and fell in love with the historic Blue Belle Saloon. After it closed in 2009, she envisioned a day when the Blue Belle would once again see its grander days.
Last month that opportunity arrived when the Blue Belle Saloon, at 224 W. Harrison, opened its doors under new ownership, which includes Silvers and Brian and Cindy McGhee.
“I fell in love with this building,” Silvers said. “We wanted to bring back the feel and flavor of the Old West. During the last six weeks, I have worked many days and nights to bring the spirit of the west back into this old building. When people walk in the doors, it should feel like they were never closed. The Blue Belle Saloon is a landmark and tribute to Guthrie and to (western movie star) Tom Mix. For me, it was also about bringing this beautiful gem back to its former brilliance.”
The Blue Belle reopened on Sept. 19 and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It employs about eight staff members and has seating for 150 people.
Silvers said the public response to the Blue Belle’s reopening has been great.
“The day we reopened, we were overwhelmed by the support that our town showed us,” Silvers said. “This community has been waiting for this day.”
Cindy McGhee, who also serves as the chief chef, said when she walked into the restaurant for the first time she knew there was a lot of work to be done. She said renovations began last spring and lasted through the summer.
“There was nothing left in here except the bar,” she said. “We renovated the kitchen and brought in new furniture. It has been everything from the ground floor up.”
McGhee, who previously worked as a sous chef at another Guthrie restaurant, said the Blue Belle menu features many of her specialties including fried chicken, fried catfish, ribs and pork loin sandwiches.
“The menu is a lot of my specialties,” McGhee said. “We are doing specials every day.”
Silvers said she wanted to keep an Old West theme for the Blue Belle. She greets customers wearing a saloon-era costume. She said employees also will occasionally perform skits and line dances in saloon-era outfits.
The Blue Belle Saloon and Miss Lizzie’s Bordello, which was located above the Blue Belle, have played a significant part in Guthrie’s history. Mix worked at the Blue Belle from 1902-04. Mix’s movie career spanned 26 years from 1909-35. In all, he made 336 feature films, produced 88, wrote 71 and directed 117. Some of Mix’s friends would drop by and see him including Will Rogers and Lucille Mulhall.
In keeping with the western theme, Silvers decorated the restaurant with photos, art and memorabilia of Mix and other local celebrities. The original ceiling is intact and still has the original gunshot holes to prove it.
Silvers said gunfighters will perform on Saturdays starting around 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m. on the street outside the Blue Belle and also inside the restaurant. Additionally, Silvers said the Blue Belle will feature musical entertainment.
Silvers said her hope is for people to not only enjoy the great food and atmosphere, but also learn a little about Guthrie’s historic past.
“We want to make it fun and educational for children and adults,” she said. “We also want this to be a destination point for travelers. There is truly something special about this place.”
FOR MORE information, call 282-8111.