ODTR Seeking State Park Restaurant Operators Through Request For Proposal

KOKH - February 20, 2023 6:45 am

The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation is looking for restaurants to take over the currently empty dining facilities at state parks.

As previously reported, Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchens used to have the contract to operate in state parks. The department canceled Swadley’s contract on Apr. 25, 2022 amid a scandal.

The state accused Swadley’s of fraud — while the restaurant countered that claim, arguing the state owes the company money.

Those interested in taking over any number of the restaurants have until Mar. 3 to submit their proposals.

State parks with restaurants include Beavers Bend, Lake Murray, Quartz Mountain, Robbers Cave, Roman Nose, and Sequoyah.

According to Shelley Zumwalt, the tourism and recreation department’s executive director, restoring state park restaurants to operating capacity is her top priority.

“I definitely see that being a restriction that has probably hurt… not only attendance but our revenue as well. So we’re excited to give that wrap-around experience,” shared Zumwalt in an interview with Fox 25.

On Feb. 2, the Assistant State Fire Marshal James Fullingim told Fox 25 that the Roman Nose restaurant still lacked permits for sprinkler and alarm system modifications.

According to Zumwalt, the department will be addressing the permit issues.

She further stressed that, “Having that food amenity, that sit-down dining experience, especially at the locations that have full lodges, being able to give people that vacation that includes not having to cook and really think about stuff like that, is something that I think people take for granted.”

The Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell (R-Okla.) put out a similar request to find new operators for state park restaurants in the spring of 2022.

For the second request for proposal, the tourism department held tours of the facilities to give interested vendors and community members a chance to examine them.

“We’re looking forward to reading all the submissions. It’s going to be an exciting time with tourism,” asserted Zumwalt.

 

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