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Got a craving for soul food? Look no further than Wanda J’s Next Generation Restaurant, located on Black Wall Street in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.
Wanda J’s first opened in 1974 on the corner of Apache and Peoria and was opened by Wanda J herself.
“At that time, it was the hangout for the Blacks of north Tulsa, you would call it Cowboy Corner,” Ty Walker told The Black Wall Street Times. Walker is the son and current owner of Wanda J’s. “When they (the black cowboys) would have the rodeos in a small black town like Redbird, Boley, Slick, all those small black towns, a lot of people came to Tulsa and that’s where they would be.
Wanda J’s got its name from the woman who opened it. Wanda J’s maiden name is Jefferson. “She was 24 years old when she started and it’s been that ever since,” Walker said.
Generations of serving soul food at Wanda J’s
The restaurant has the Next Generation title as it currently is on its third generation of family. The restaurant started with Walker’s mother, then included Walker and his sister and brother for the second generation. It’s currently on its third with Walker’s daughters. “They’re the next ones in line to carry on the Wanda J’s name.”
Even though Wanda J’s is a local restaurant, it has seen success and support from across the city. “We’re supported by north Tulsa, south Tulsa, east Tulsa, west Tulsa. We have a large customer base,” Walker said. “Everything we have accomplished in life; Tulsa has given it to us as a whole because everybody supports it.” The city has seen the restaurant adapt with the times and has helped the restaurant even when it has struggled. “The community was always behind us, always made sure we survived.” Says Walker.
Supporting community without recognition
When asked about some of the things the restaurant has done in the community, Walker told The Black Wall Street Times “We’re not here for recognition and say what we do, we just help where help is needed.” Wanda J’s has donated to schools and organizations in need anonymously and plans to continue to do so.
Leaving the restaurant, The Black Wall Street Times asked a few customers their thoughts on their experience. “Its awesome, it’s a small place that gets busy and the food is really good, it speaks for itself,” said one first time customer. “It’s excellent, amazing, my favorite thing is the greens,” said a returning customer.
Lastly if you’ve never been to Wanda J’s, Walker recommends you try their fried chicken. “People say that blacks eat more fried chicken, but I could beg to differ. We sell a lot of chicken to all races, it’s like America and apple pie. We’re number one in the city for the fried chicken.”