The Edmond Sun


November 19, 2013

Kennedy helped build local restaurant dynasty

OKLA. CITY — In the late 1970s Oklahoma City was awash in wealth generated by the oil boom, and some of that newfound wealth could be seen at the disco establishments Michael’s Plum and Pistachio’s. At both places, couples danced  to disco music amidst glittering globes and mirrored walls as oilmen who had recently become millionaires celebrated their good fortune by buying drinks for all of those present.  

Occasionally, the sound of a helicopter landing on a school playground near  Michael’s Plum could be heard and people from faraway places would soon be showing their moves on the dance floor.

And, a national publication reported that a Oklahoma City banker was seen by out-of-town investors drinking champagne out of a cowboy boot at Michael’s Plum. It was also said that cocaine and other drugs were readily available at both establishments, and that some of the customers who were not wearing expensive suits and tipping  generously were in fact federal drug agents looking to make a bust.    

Sed Kennedy owned both places for a time, and very often patrons would recognize him as the restaurateur who formerly owned and operated the “Across the Street”  restaurants on Campus Corner in Norman and in Oklahoma City where customers would place their orders from phones that were on tables.

Kennedy had also been vice president of the Steak and Ale restaurants organization. His son, Brent Kennedy, was a bartender at Michael’s Plum, and both Kennedys recently spoke about their experiences there. The younger Kennedy reported that he was making over $800 per week in tips alone, and that on Sunday night the Plum would be rented out for private parties for $20,000.

The senior Kennedy detailed how he took a fateful trip to Houston in 1980 where a friend showed him a  popular club in that city that had a country and western theme. This was the time that the John Travolta and Debra Winger film “Urban Cowboy” was popular, and Sed  Kennedy decided to transform Pistachio’s into a country and western themed establishment.

He hired a decorator who placed murals of John Wayne and other Western heroes on the wall and sent his staff to Tener’s Western Wear for western-style clothes. Soon patrons in cowboy boots and Stetson hats were two-stepping to the sound of country and western music at Pistachio’s, just as they had previously danced to the disco beat there.

When the price of oil dropped dramatically in the early 1980s, business at both establishments leveled off, and the senior Kennedy decided to sell them. The new owners eventually closed both places.    

Both men report that they still encounter people who remember them from their days at Michael’s Plum and Pistachio’s. But the  Kennedys are known in the hospitality industry for more than their disco days.

Beginning with his operation of the “Across the Street” in Norman, the elder Kennedy, who is now retired, mentored athletes and restaurateurs who have gone on to successful careers based in part on the guidance and advice that he provided to them. When he was vice president at Steak and Ale he offended many male employees of a recently opened restaurant by making a woman its general manager. The woman in question proved to be a capable manager and Kennedy’s confidence in her was vindicated and female managers in eateries has since become common.

Many of the people who worked for him went on to start other restaurants, including the founders of the Interurban and the Outback chain.

Kennedy always made himself available to his former employees who sought his advice.

Brent Kennedy is now a partner in the Hal Smith Restaurant group that includes the Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise in central Oklahoma and the Louie’s restaurants. Both Kennedys attribute their success to their providing quality food and service to their customers and the dedication and commitment of their employees.

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.


Text Only
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results