Iconic Route 66 BBQ restaurant gets ready to close its doors after 41 years of business

SAPULPA, Okkla. — An iconic route 66 restaurant in Sapulpa is closing after 41 years.

Hickory House BBQ is shutting its doors for good at the end of business Saturday.

There’s been a big rush to get that one last bite with people wanting to taste a piece of Route 66 history before it closes for good.

After over four decades, business owners Gilbert and Roberta Ortiz have decided to retire and close Hickory House’s doors.

“You know, it’s time,” said Roberta. “It’s time to jump off that running train and do something different.”

Roberta said they raised their two children in the restaurant, and the place is full of memories.

“When we first [opened], we didn’t have a whole lot of customers,” Roberta said. “And little by little … I mean this is what we have.”

The memories have built up over time for the couple, and Hickory House’s walls are lined with decorations that were given to them by customers. Roberta said people have been asking if they can take a piece of the restaurant home with them.

“There’s a story behind all of it,” she said. “There’s some things that are very sentimental to us [that] we’re going to take. And we’re being flooded with people that want to buy things, so we’ll have a big sale and go from there.”

Roberta also explained they nearly retired back in 2020, but decided to stay open to help the community get through COVID-19.

The couple hasn’t decided what to do with the building and business yet. Roberta said they are working on closing first.

“One of the things about selling [the building] is we don’t know if we want to put our name with somebody else because we’ve had it for so long. If they can live up to what our expectations are for everybody … that’s the hard part,” she said.

Since they announced their retirement, hundreds of people have rushed into Sapulpa to eat at the restaurant.

“We want to thank everybody that’s come out and supported us,” Roberta said.

They’ve been so busy that some staff who used to work there have come back to help out for free. Roberta said she didn’t realize how much Hickory House meant to the community.

“That’s been very touching,” she told FOX23. “That makes you realize we made some impression on their lives.”

Saturday is the final day to taste a piece of Route 66′s history before it’s gone for good.