15 Apr A Thankful Connection
By: Kathy Taylor
During my childhood, I spent a lot of time with my dad’s mom, Mama. The spirit of life she shared with me has stayed with me always. There were a few rules she asked me to always adhere to when I was a guest at someone’s home- always make your bed, take your dishes to the sink, say please and thank you and send a handwritten thank you note. Despite losing her when I was ten, the real spirit I inherited from her was the power of food—to bring a family together at difficult times, to bring a smile to the face of a troubled person and to nourish body and soul. She was the original lunch lady- working in a grade school cafeteria and in a local bakery. She imbued me with a love of the process of baking-the accuracy, the smells, the beauty and the mutual joy when shared with others. When I accompanied her to work, I noticed that she and many of her colleagues were often unseen—the invisible hands behind the work. The product brought joy but often people’s busy lives did not give them the joy of stopping to consider the passion, talent and hard work that went into the food they were enjoying.
So, it has always caused me to take notice of the people behind the product. As Mayor, as often I as could, I would leave events through the kitchen to say thank you to the many workers who had produced a wonderful meal that brought Tulsans together—often to raise funds for needs in our community.
I shared that love and power of food with my daughter, Elizabeth and she has shared it with her kids, Taylor & Wyatt. Our happiest times are when the mixer is whirring, flour flying, and smells of baked goods fill our kitchen.
So, when Elizabeth took over as CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation over a decade ago and launched Kitchen 66, a kitchen incubator that helps people gain the business expertise to launch their food concepts, I felt an emotional and thankful connection to Mama and our family’s past. When Elizabeth came to our board with the big idea of turning our 27,500 square foot warehouse into a food hall for food entrepreneurs, I joyfully embraced her vision and felt a thankful connection again. Mother Road Market was born, and I was nourished not just with the food but the stories of each and every entrepreneur, their journey and their passion. When covid-19 struck and the LTFF team made the emotional and difficult decision to close Mother Road Market for the safety of our employees and customers, I felt a thankful connection to the values of Mama as I watched the staff carry out this difficult task. The people behind the food were not invisible to the LTFF team—they were their first thought and priority. And, as I have watched what the LTFF team is doing to help support in every way possible these passionate food entrepreneurs-who nourish our community’s body and soul- who produce food as a passion and to support their families, I am filled with gratitude.
I know the LTFF team will do all in their power as this historic crisis moves to a new stage- to support what has become our extended family in the restaurant industry to survive and thrive. I hope that we as customers will all move a bit more slowly, and consider the faces and stories behind the food that we enjoy. I hope we share more meals with family, friends, old and new. I hope we are thankful each moment for our community and our connections- from local farmers to passionate cooks and chefs. I am thankful for each and every one of the members of our LTFF and Mother Road Market team, our passionate entrepreneurs, our loyal customers and all who contributed to the Employee Restauarant Worker Relief Fund to help find an emergency financial bridge for the often unseen workers in this vital industry. I am thankful for this work of LTFF that holds a connection to my history that lives deep in my heart And, I know my Mama is also.