City officials hold ground breaking ceremony in River West Development

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Sand Springs City Council members and other City officials held a ground-breaking ceremony for the new El Maguey location Wednesday evening in the River West Development. 

Owners Rogelio and Norma Ayala and their two children were visibly excited about their new property and the progress being made. The Ayalas have been renting their current facility at 520 East Plaza Court for the last fourteen years and are expected to move into the new restaurant next summer. 

The new restaurant will feature the same menu, but the Ayalas look to improve service and atmosphere while adding quality patio seating. 

The thirty-acre River West property was purchased with Vision 2025 funds approved in 2003 and development began in 2007 but stalled out due to the Great Recession. 

Centennial Baptist Church and McDonald's have been present in the area since 2000. In 2010 IHOP opened as the first sit-down restaurant in the development and in 2012 an existing O'Reilly Auto Parts location relocated from within the property. In 2013 a CVS pharmacy opened on the former site of the Booker T. Washington High School and Kindergarten Center. Holiday Inn Express opened a new location in 2015 and Starbucks opened a small location the same year. El Maguey will be the second restaurant to join the fast-growing development.

 

New restaurant headed to Sand Springs River West development

Courtesy.

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

El Maguey Authentic Mexican Restaurant will be relocating its Sand springs location to the River West Shopping Center.

The Mexican grill and cantina has been at 536 E. Plaza Court since 2002 and, according to building permits list on the City of Sand Springs' website, will be relocating to 51 W. Alexander Boulevard. 

According to a news release, the project will take approximately nine months to complete with construction slated to begin in August.  The new location will feature patio seating.

First Annual Taste of Sand Springs boasts delicious dining experience

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The first annual Taste of Sand Springs was a success Thursday evening at the Charles Page High School cafeteria. The Chamber of Commerce event served as a fundraiser for the organization Junior Achievement. 

The dining started off with some delicious sliders from Osage Casino. Napoli's Italian Restaurant provided pasta. Reasor's deli had broccoli salad and deviled egg potato salad. Rib Crib served colossal portions of baked beans and mac and cheese with bacon. Charlie's Chicken had hearty portions of green beans and broccoli grape salad. Gander Mountain Vineyard provided open-faced roast beef sandwiches and mushroom casserole with key lime cheesecake for dessert. 

Other sweet options included Harper's Hut Shaved Ice, Sandlot Snoballs and brownies from Meadowlake Ranch. Livi Lee's donuts had a delicious treat called "Strawberry Fields," consisting of a glazed cake donut with strawberries and whipped cream. Also on hand were sixth-graders Taylor Blackwell and Sydnee Porter selling lemonade to raise money for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson was the spokesman for the evening and entertained the customers with periodic giveaways including car detailing certificates, Starbucks packages, Crescent Cafe gift cards and more. Jackson serves as the Development Manager at Junior Achievement of Eastern Oklahoma and is currently running for the Senate Seat 37.

Money raised from the event will benefit more than ten CPHS students participating in the Junior Achievement life skills programs.

“Just a short 15 years ago, I was a junior at CPHS and I had the fortune to be inspired by my community classroom volunteer with Junior Achievement.  That classroom time gave me direction to live out my American Dream alongside my wife and daughter,” said Jackson.

New restaurants added to first "Taste of Sand Springs" event

Harper's Hut is one of many businesses to join the inaugural Taste of Sand Springs event. 

Harper's Hut is one of many businesses to join the inaugural Taste of Sand Springs event. 

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The Chamber of Commerce’s annual restaurant crawl is no more, replaced this year by the first annual “Taste of Sand Springs” event.

Thursday, June 16, the Chamber will host a dining event at the Charles Page High School cafeteria from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Rib Crib, Napoli’s Italian Eatery, and Cheezies Pizzeria were initially confirmed for the event, and the Chamber announced an even longer list of food vendors on Thursday. Reasor's Deli and Bakery, Sandlot Sno-Balls, Gander Way Vineyards, Harper's Hut Shaved Ice and Java, Meadowlake Ranch, Charlie's Chicken, and Osage Casino will all be providing food. More restaurants are expected to join the event but aren't confirmed yet. 

The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children between the ages of 6-10, and kids under five are free. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Chamber and Junior Achievement.

According to the Junior Achievement website, they seek to “empower young people to own their economic success.” Their programs “educate young people to value free enterprise, business, and economics through the support of teachers, parents, and volunteers in the classroom...Junior Achievement helps educate students in personal finance and practical workplace skills, preparing them to pursue their careers as well as their dreams.”

For more information on the event, contact Kristen Valentin at 918.245.3221 or email her at Kristen@sandspringschamber.com

Also on the horizon: 

Sand Springs Community Services is hosting their annual “Margaritaville Summer Party” at the Canyons at Blackjack Ridge golf course on Saturday, June 11th. The event will last from 6:00 to 10:00 pm and will benefit the Community Services general fund.

The party will feature live music, dancing, food, drinks, and games. The cost is $60 per person or $450 for a table of eight. Corporate sponsors are welcome to advertise on tables for $500.

According to the SSCS Mission Statement, “SSCS is dedicated to ASSIST, CONNECT, EMPOWER, and SERVE clients experiencing economic crises with basic needs assistance. It works collectively with Partner Agencies to provide empowering programs and resources to move families forward toward self-sufficiency and to serve all with dignity, respect, compassion, and hope.”

Harper's Hut gives away 1300 snow cones, raises hundreds for special needs school

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The 2016 Harper's Hut Summer Kickoff event was a big success once again, and raised more than $200 for The Little Lighthouse. The third annual free snow cone day saw Harper's give away more than 1300 freebies in an effort to draw the community out to the important fundraiser.

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java partnered with Auto Source and Master Lube to provide three bounce houses Thursday afternoon in Sand Springs. Green Country Federal Credit Union cooked 450 free hot dogs for the community and even had to leave and get more when attendance exceeded expectation in spite of the rain. The Akdar Shriners were on hand with their Popcorn Wagon, and there were multiple face painters helping raise money as well.

The party featured a live DJ, games, Xbox Kinect, and lots of giveaways. Between donations and sale of raffle tickets, the event raised $220 for the nonprofit development center for children with special needs. 

 

Unlimited Free Snowcones all day Thursday at Harper's Hut!

SUBMITTED. Harper's Hut recently raised nearly $200 to help send special needs students to prom.

SUBMITTED. Harper's Hut recently raised nearly $200 to help send special needs students to prom.

By: Scott Emigh, Editor in Chief

Just when you thought Harper's Hut Shaved Ice and Java couldn't get any more generous, they find a way to up the ante...this time with some help from their neighbors.  

Beginning Thursday at 12:00 PM, the local snow cone stand will be giving away free minis all day long at their Charles Page Boulevard location in Sand Springs. The Third Annual Summer Kickoff event is bigger than ever before thanks to help from the Akdar Shriners, Green Country Federal Credit Union, Auto Source, and Master Lube.

From Noon to 10:00 PM, mini sized snow cones will be free, or you can get a larger size minus the price of a mini. Green Country will be giving away free hot dogs, the Shriners Pop Corn Wagon will be giving away free pop corn, and the Hut will be doing giveaways every fifteen minutes. 

The party will benefit The Little Lighthouse in Tulsa, which is a nationally recognized development center for children with special needs. The nonprofit organization doesn't charge tuition and operates entirely on contributions from private donors such as Harper's Hut.

The popcorn and hot dogs will be available from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, during which time the Little Lighthouse will be accepting donations in exchange for Harper's Hut raffle tickets. The prize drawings will go on all day and will include shirts, hats, Snow-Yo's (free snow cone cards), and even a Cold Card, which grants the recipient free snow cones all season long.

The party will feature live music from a DJ, tons of games, including an Xbox Kinect hooked up to a giant screen, and three bounce houses. Harper's, Master Lube, and Auto Source will each be providing a bounce house for the event. 

Sakura might just be the nicest restaurant in Sand Springs

By: Morgan Miller, Executive Director

If you are from Sand Springs, you have probably asked for the city to have nicer restaurants before (or if you're on Sand Springs Gossip Central, you have asked for them a couple dozen times). In January Sand Springs received a new, incredibly nice Sushi and Hibachi restaurant named Sakura.

Sakura opened in a building formerly occupied by Pizza Hut. On the outside, it still looks like its predecessor, but as soon as you step inside, you're blown away by how lovely the decor is. Walking around the interior of this restaurant, you would never guess that it was once a Pizza Hut. The flooring and walls are very nicely done, with nice faux wood flooring, gorgeous wallpaper, and decorative stacked stone. There are also multiple decorative water features throughout the restaurant, televisions on multiple walls, and nice seating in each of the three sections. As well as regular booth and table seating, guests also have the option to be seated at the sushi bar.

The food does not disappoint, either. The menu has something for just about everyone. There is sushi, fried rices, steak, and other great options. Of the many times that I have visited (I'd rather not say the amount) I have tried many of their sushi options. Before trying Sakura, I can honestly say I was not a fan of sushi. I have tried almost all of the "special" sushi options on the menu there and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one that I have tried. I have heard from friends that their options other than sushi are quite enjoyable as well.

The staff has been friendly and professional with every visit. Each time I have gone, my food has come out in a timely manner and my drink has stayed filled. Finally, I have always been very impressed with the presentation of my food. Each time, my food has been presented to me beautifully.

Over all, the only complaint that I could have is that the outside of the restaurant does not reflect at all the greatness that is found inside. If you have not gone to check out this new addition to Sand Springs, I would highly recommend that you do!

Sakura is open from 11:00am-3:00pm and 4:30pm-9:30pm Monday through Thursday, 11:00am-10:00pm Friday and Saturday, and 11:00am-9:00pm on Sunday. You can dine in or order take-out. To order carry out you can call the restaurant at 918-514-0288, or order online at www.sakurasandsprings.com 

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java to donate 20% of Wednesday profit to CPHS Special Needs Prom

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java is known for making headlines with their generosity and community involvement. Just two weeks ago they gave away more than 400 free snow cones at the Sand Springs Chillin' and Grillin' festival.

Their latest contribution is planned for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27th. 20% of all net sales from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM will be donated to the Charles Page High School Special Needs program for use in the 2016 Prom, which is scheduled for May 7th. 

The offer is valid only at the Sand Springs location at 1124 East Charles Page Boulevard, and you must present the official flyer for credit. 

"Prom Promise" is an initiative that began six years ago that exists to ensure students with special needs will be able to enjoy the same prom experience as those without disabilities. The program works to provide tuxes and dresses, tickets, dinner before the dance, and transportation to Prom via party bus. The goal is to raise about $2000 by a May 3rd deadline. 

The group has already raised $490 via a "gofundme" account at https://www.gofundme.com/e8v69jgk and they're also accepting checks payable to "Prom Promise" that can be dropped off at the high school office. 

Harper's ties to the special needs community run deep. Harper's is owned by William and Lindsay Nozak who have several family members on staff at The Little Lighthouse in Tulsa, which is a nationally recognized development center for children with special needs. Lindsay, herself, is the Waiting List Coordinator. According to the company, "LLH does not charge tuition and receives money only from private sources, such as foundations and grants."

Harper's Hut is a frequent contributor to the organization and often brings shaved ice for the children throughout the year. "Our family is extremely involved in the lives of our special needs community," says William Nozak. This commitment comes directly from the Harper's Hut core values, which pledge "support toward non-profit organizations promoting family, and Christian values." 

Harper's hosted an entire day of free snow cones last May to raise money for LLH and plans on doing the same this year on May 19th. Harper's was able to reinvest more than $8200 into the community last season and has already contributed more than $2000 to local charities, organizations, and other community centered events this year, not even a quarter of the way into the season. 

Bill & Ruth's is Sand Springs's best kept secret

By Morgan Miller, Executive Director

Whenever I walk into a restaurant, I fully prepare myself for the possibility of not being able to find something to eat there. I have multiple food allergies and they make eating outside of my home nearly impossible sometimes. When I walked into Bill and Ruth's, I was completely prepared to have to walk away and find somewhere else to eat, but that was not the case.

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As soon as we entered the restaurant we were greeted with genuine enthusiasm by the owner, Walid Mustafa. He then asked us what we would be eating, and I told him of my predicament. That did not phase Mustafa in any way though. He immediately began making suggestions and actively trying to find things that I would be able to eat. He offered to make a dish in an alternative way to avoid using an ingredient that I couldn't eat. It ended up being the perfect solution, and we decided that the grilled catfish with steamed vegetables was a meal that I could safely eat!

After we paid and went to sit down, Mustafa began personally preparing our food. He got all of it out very quickly and it was wonderful. The food was plated very well, and the portions were large. I ended up taking more than half of it home! Finally, the restaurant was very clean and welcoming. It was a completely positive experience for me. 

Morgan’s Relax Packs are handcrafted heat packs designed for maximum muscle relief at affordable pricing.

Morgan’s Relax Packs are handcrafted heat packs designed for maximum muscle relief at affordable pricing.

I would highly recommend anyone to visit this restaurant, there is a wide variety of foods and the service is always excellent. Bill and Ruth's is located at 351 East 2nd Street, Sand Springs, Oklahoma. They are open Monday through Friday from 9:30am-9:00pm, Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm, and closed Sunday. If you would like to make a to-go order you can call the restaurant at 918-245-3782.

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice is open for the season!

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Spring Break kicks off this Friday for our Sand Springs Sandites and one of the most popular hangouts in town is opening up just in time!

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice will be back open for the season at 3:00 pm this Friday and will stay open till 10:30. 

Harper's hit Sand Springs by storm back in 2014 when CEO William Nozak opened his first hut on Charles Page Boulevard in front of the Sand Springs Cinema 8. Word of mouth began to attract large lines of people from Sand Springs, Tulsa, Sapulpa, and Mannford who were clamoring to try the first gourmet snow cones in the Sand Springs area.

Within a month of opening, Harper's Hut was named the "Best in the World" by the Tulsa World readers, and with more than 80 flavors and hundreds of combinations, there's something for everybody. 

The Harper's popularity continued to skyrocket into 2015 and Nozak opened huts in Mannford and Glenpool as well as supplied his brand of deliciousness to the Sapulpa Aquatic Center. In December, Nozak expanded his entrepreneurial exploits into coffee. The first Harper's Hut Java stand opened in Prattville (South Sand Springs) on 41st Street in front of Church That Matters and is open year-round.

Coffee had always been a part of the plan for Nozak, who originally filed his business under the name "Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java." The South-side location won't be offering shaved ice at this time, but does have signature flavors such as "Volcano" and "Butterbeer" available for smoothies, Italian soda, frappuccinos, as well as hot drinks. 

The North side has aims to expand to coffee at some point in the future, but that hut is currently too small to carry both shaved ice and java. 

Nozak considers this weekend to be a "soft opening," with a Grand Opening set for this May when the students are out of school for the summer. The Grand Opening, like last year, will be a full weekend of events, games, and giveaways. He has already been probing the community on what movies they would like to see at Harper's, which frequently does Free Family Movie Nights throughout the summer on their giant inflatable screen. 

Harper's mobile setup is available for all sorts of events ranging from weddings and birthdays to corporate events and fundraisers. A frequent favorite that Church That Matters has used two-years in a row is The Meltdown, where Harper's shaves enough ice for a large snowball fight in the middle of summer. Harper's raised thousands for local charities last summer and hopes to carry that momentum into 2016 with even more local give-back. 

So get on down to Harper's Hut Shaved Ice today and see the shaved ice stand that Tulsa competitors are calling a game-changer for the area!

Harper's Hut expands to coffee in new Prattville location

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

In the summer of 2014, Harper's Hut Shaved Ice became the third snow-cone stand to open its doors in Sand Springs, setting up shop on Charles Page Boulevard in front of the Sand Springs Cinema 8.

CEO William Nozak began his company with the initial goal of being the best in Sand Springs, and less than two months into operations they were named the "Best in the World" by the Tulsa World readers. They were once again nominated for that honor in 2015.

Harper's brought a lot of changes to the shaved ice industry in Tulsa and forced many competitors to step up their game. "We aim to be the best in the industry at selling gourmet shaved ice flavors by keeping our menu relevant to current events, movies, and local popular topics," says the Harper's Mission Statement.

Indeed, the company has more than stayed true to its premise and has overtaken the town. From free family movie nights to entire weekends of unlimited free snowcones, Harper's has proven they're more than just a business--they're part of the family.

Harper's has hosted snowball fights and slip'n'slides, set up shop at the Sand Springs Pumpkin Patch and the Charles Page High School football games. 

Now they're taking things a step further. Last month Harper's officially began offering assorted java products in their catering business. Yesterday a new stand opened up on the South side of the river in the Church That Matters parking lot next door to Inkwell Printing on 41st street.

Nozak was very happy with his first day of business. Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java is open from 7-11AM and carries a large assortment of gourmet java and craft coffee. Espresso, Italian Sodas, Smoothies, and Frapped Ice are some of the products they offer. Famous Harper's Hut shaved ice flavors such as Volcano, Butterbeer, and Blueberry Cobbler are even available in their Frapps.

Eventually, Nozak plans to renovate all of his existing stands in Glenpool, Sapulpa, Sand Springs, and Mannford to provide the java products year-round.