Lani Hansen/Senior Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– In the kitchen of her very own home you will find Shannon James owner of “Rez Served” cooking up dishes with a Rez twist as she grows in her own business with the help of Mother Road Market – Kitchen 66 launch program.
James is a Cherokee Nation citizen who recently moved to Okmulgee with her family. Before getting into the launch program, she had a career in the medical field working with Indian Health Services as an Oral Surgeon Assistant for ten years. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that forced everyone to work from home, when one day she was scrolling through Facebook and saw the post about the launch program through Mother Road Market.
“My supervisor had asked if I was coming back to work, because my spot was still sitting there and I was torn,” James said about her decision. “It was a hard decision for my family. It was choosing to fulfill my dream or go back to my 9-5 work schedule.”
The day she saw the launch program posting, James said it felt like a sign from God telling her to do it. She had heard of people she knew who have applied for it before and they did not get accepted, but she moved forward and took a chance.
James also known as “Meat pie lady” has been selling meat pies as a side job since 2012 and it started in Tahlequah. Her daughter was into cheering at the time and was searching for funding for a cheerleading competition, so James sold meat pies as part of the fundraiser.
“Everybody loved my meat pies,” James said. “So from then on I started slowly making them more and more. I’d sell at powwows, and after a couple of years people recognized my face.”
After she applied for the launch program, James continued to sell meat pies until the following week she received her acceptance call into the program. She had brought in some food examples such as “rez dogs,” “skoden tacos,” philly cheesesteak in frybread and others and the Kitchen 66 staff loved it.
“I always incorporate my frybread into whatever I’m making,” James said.
As she begins this new journey in the Kitchen 66 launch program James is operating her new take-out kitchen called “Rez Served,” a Native American/Indigenous based business located in Okmulgee.
The launch program was accepting 10 applicants for the spring and James was chosen out of over 300 other applicants. Classes for the program started in February and they meet in person every Tuesday.
“They help you launch your business from rock bottom and all the way up,” James said. “It’s a six-month training course program with so many benefits.”
The benefits offered from the program consist of assigning the participant a business attorney to making sure the business is running smooth. The program also helps the participants with their sales pitch.
“I don’t have any culinary experience, I just grew up in my grandma’s and mom’s kitchen and was put to work in there,” James stated.
Her specialty is to stick to “grandma’s kitchen” cooking such as homestyle and traditional on her menu. Since opening her “kitchen” and participating in the program, James feels like more doors are opening for her.
Rez Served is located on 620 S. Miami Ave. Okmulgee, OK 74447. She is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m. until sold out for dinner.
Check out Shannon James business page through Facebook at: Rez Served, or call at 918-901-3183.