February 14, 2003
The readers write, thank goodness, and that often helps me find interesting material to share with you. One such missive arrived the other day via e-mail from long-time friend and, colleague Wes Leatherock, who now lives in retirement in Oklahoma City. (His Dad, the late W.K. Leatherock, hired me as a novice newsman for this newspaper some 62 years ago, when young Wes was still a student in the Perry school system.) The message from Wes was prompted by one of those recent Northwest Corner columns about the shooting of Homer Thompson, famed barbecue chef in this city before his death on Christmas Eve in 1961. Wes had some interesting recollections of Beverly Osborne, who introduced Oklahomans to his Chicken-in-the-Rough specialty via a popular eatery just off Lincoln Avenue north of the State Capitol. (That column gave Beverly's last name incorrectly as Garland. There was an actress by that name, but that was not the Oklahoma restaurateur. Sorry about that slip-up.)
Wes writes: "When I was a reporter on the Daily Oklahoman, I covered a robbery one evening at the Osbornes' house. It would not be a stretch to call it a mansion. The robbers tied up the butler and the maid, and made off with some valuables... Beverly, a pretty affable guy, gave me a card (written on the back of his business card) with a free dinner for Gloria (Wes's wife) and me. Now that might be considered unethical, but no one thought it out of line in those days...Beverly's wife usually was the cashier at the location on Lincoln in the evenings. They drove identical pink Cadillac convertibles With the Beverly's Chicken-in the-Rough logos on the doors.
"Beverly and his wife were leading citizens and active in civic affairs, as well as active in St. Luke's United Methodist Church. A portrait of them hangs in the church. Their home was down a driveway off Lincoln a few blocks north of NE 50 Street. When Highways 66 and 77 were rerouted off that stretch to a new, straight Lincoln Boulevard, the street to their house was renamed Beverly Drive, The house burned to the ground a few years ago.
"Beverly was one of the first franchisers in the country, and apparently did very well at it. Place mats in the restaurants...and other franchised locations had a map of the USA. showing Chicken-in-the-Rough locations nationwide. When the state extended the capitol complex north of 23rd street, it condemned the property where the home restaurant was located, paying only the value of the land and buildings. Beverly sued, seeking the value as a going business, but the law only allows the value of the land and buildings. I believe he retired soon after."
The Chicken-in-the-Rough trademark and franchise were part of Oklahoma's claim to fame a few years ago. Remember the chicken standing off the fairway with the golf club clutched to a wing? That was the logo of Beverly Osborne's eating places all around the country. Thanks to Wes Leatherock for this sidelight to our earlier column which contained Johnny Skinner's recollection of the time when he was a waiter at Perry's Golden Barbecue café where the owner, Homer Thompson, was killed on that fateful Christmas Eve in 1961.