Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 4, 2013

Eatery an answer to home sickness

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — For those who have long appreciated Pauls Valley resident Amy Richey’s culinary skills, the best news possible came recently as she announced her pending return to the restaurant scene.

Many remember her former bakery and lunch business “How Sweet It is,” which closed earlier this year after several years as a popular Garvin County spot and it will be in a matter of weeks people can again bite into familiar dishes.

With a new name and spot that will be called “Amy’s Grill,” she will be taking over what was previously Stark’s Steak House, admitting how she could not stay away from the community that she’s known and loved for so long.

“I just missed working here, I was so far removed,” said Richey.

When I was there I didn’t realize how much I’d miss it... Ultimately missing people in community was what prompted me to come back.”

Richey does not regret going with the Chickasaw Nation as the general manager of their Retreat and Conference Center, with the main reason being it was something like she felt she needed to try.

After giving it a go for about a year, she noticed she did not have the ability to do what she really enjoyed and that was serve her customers on a personal level.

“Truly in the long run all it did was make me want back what I had before,” said Richey, noting how her former business also closed after it seemed to lose her influenced style as she was not able to be there and work with the tribe.

“Almost all of my old staff is coming back to work.”

One of the key differences between the new venture and what she had before will be the addition of dinner when they only did lunch before and not returning the bakery portion of the business.

They will still serve some of the familiar desserts like their thumbprint cookies, but removing that came down to keeping elements that were and will be profitable again.

It’s a spot Richey has had her eye on before, though she admitted she is a little concerned about people finding the location along Butler Road, which is basically the I-35 access road next to the Shell service station, formerly a Love’s convenience store.

However, she is confident it will catch on as people have already given her plenty of calls of support and the word started to spread as soon as she started letting friends know.

The atmosphere will be a salute to the community as well and will include plenty of elements that she hopes will encourage people who have never been here to see more of it. This means a lot of pictures that allude to Pauls Valley’s history like of the Santa Fe Depot as a part of the unique downtown tourism.

It will also include a bar, but it is not the sole focus and is simply an option as a part of the overall family feel one might expect at a place like Applebees.

She sees plenty of opportunity to make it a place for events as well, including taking advantage of the former winery appeal for festivals.

“Pauls Valley is so rich in tradition,” said Richey, adding how the goal is to have everything running before the holidays.

“How neat is that if you are traveling and it gives you a little bit of the air of the community. What I’m hoping is to encourage them to go into town.”

In the end, Richey also wants people to see it as an affordable option people can come out and enjoy any day they are open and not just for special occasions.

As an example of what it will cost to eat, she said the lunch prices will be somewhat like her previous place near the high school at about $10 to $15 a meal and dinner will be a bit more at about $20 to $25 per person.

“I think when you have great food and atmosphere people will find you,” said Richey, noting how the restaurant will include several large TVs set up to show the major sporting events throughout the year for fans of the area teams.

“There’s enough land and area to do great things…We’re going for a family friendly and casual meal.”

The hours may change later, but the plan is to be open every day except Tuesday, with the hours of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday as well as 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.