Not just a grocery store

Tiny, unassuming Midway Grocery & Market is owned by “Midway Bob” Thompson, a former Norman City Council member.

Drop in any morning or afternoon and you’ll find an eclectic group of diners ranging from neighborhood regulars to country superstar Toby Keith, casually noshing on Midway’s signature sandwich: the Arnie ($8.50), a grilled concoction of salami, ham and pepperoni named after Thompson’s best friend and golfing buddy, Kent “Arnie” von Bargen. Former Gov. Brad Henry is reportedly a fan of Midway’s renowned Reuben sandwich ($8.50), a tasty delight of tender corned beef piled on marble rye bread with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Barry “The King” Switzer often orders the Ranchero ($8.50),  a grilled, Santa Fe turkey sandwich kicked up with spicy ranch.

Over the years, it has morphed into more of a deli than a grocery, serving about 300 customers daily.

Thompson bought the grocery in 1985, and he prides himself on serving good, fresh, straightforward food.

right, Cori Wood at Midway Grocery & Market

“Everything is made in small batches,” he said.

One of the original employees in 1955, Bill Ashley, although retired in 1999, still comes in each Monday to make his renowned Bill’s chili ($4.25), which is served daily.

“It’s his recipe, and we don’t mess with that,” Thompson said of the well-liked menu item.

Ashley was instrumental in the continued success of Midway  Grocery after Thompson bought it.

“Bill had to teach me to butcher, to be a product manager,” Thompson said.

The
daily soups are all homemade, including Thompson’s wife Maricha’s gumbo
($4.25), which is described on the menu as “a party in your mouth.”

Friday is vegetable beef and barley soup day ($3.25).

“It’s the most tender, most mellow soup,” Thompson said. “It’s just a great soup.”

Sandwiches
are just about anything that can be concocted, with customers filling
out a checklist selecting what kind of meats, cheeses, bread, condiments
and spreads they want.

“The menu’s just the minimum we offer,” he said.

Thompson comes in at 6:45 a.m. to make cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, croissants, French bread and cookies.

“If I get an award for anything, it’s
having a restaurant in Oklahoma where nothing is deep-fried,” Thompson
joked, although he confessed he eats deep-fried foods occasionally. “All
of our food has a blue-collar goodness. We don’t use a lot of fancy
seasonings and rubs to ‘chef it up.’ You’re not going to taste any
frickin’ thyme.”

Midway Grocery sells 3.2 beer, as well as a wide selection of sodas.

The
grocery is not as well-known for its morning offerings, but they’ll
start your day out right. Midway serves up breakfast croissants with
bacon, ham or sausage ($5.25); a breakfast burrito with Bill’s chili
($4.99) or a breakfast quesadilla ($5.95), along with pastries, muffins
and freshly brewed coffee.

Most
days, you’ll find special people being treated like regular folks, and
regular folks being treated like special people at Midway Grocery. And
you might just recognize the person sitting next to you.

Midway Grocery is open seven days a week: from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Photo by Mark Hancock

Oklahoma
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

Check the 1:30 mark for a brief appearance by the grocery store in The Chainsaw Kitten’s “High in High School” music video, which was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Jonze.

Carol Cole-Frowe

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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