Kathleen's Kitchen to close its doors after 27 years
After nearly three decades of cooking Texoma favorites including baked breads and other sweet treats, a Sherman restaurateur is hanging up her apron for good. Kathleen Tuggle, owner of Kathleen's Kitchen, announced late Wednesday evening that the restaurant and bakery will close its doors one final time on May 28.
The restaurant has called a small complex of buildings in the 1900 block of Travis Street home for all but one year when it was in Kelly Square. During that time, the restaurant has primarily been family owned and operated with Tuggle leading the kitchen while her daughters concentrate on the dining room. Her husband has helped keep everything in working order while taking care of other background duties.
"Who would have every thought that a girl with no formal training, armed with a sourdough starter and a love for baking and cooking, could make it for 27 years," Tuggle said in a post on the restaurant's Facebook page Wednesday evening.
At its peak, the restaurant employed a staff of 23 workers — a far cry from the one helper it started with.
Tuggle's restaurant ambitions started in the late 1980s not in a professional kitchen but in her own home kitchen. At the time the stay-at-home mom would cook her signature sourdough bread and other baked goods and sell them each week at area businesses. Word of mouth quickly grew, and Tuggle found her baked goods in high demand.
"A few friends had a few friends, and a few friends had even more friends," she said.
After many requests from area businesses, Tuggle opened her own bakery in 1994. The operation proved to be so successful that the business merged the existing bakery with the building next door in order to expand into a full-fledged restaurant.
The decision to close the restaurant rested on several factors, but the primary reason was Tuggle's desire to retire after a long career in the restaurant business. She had considered retirement for the past five years, and her daughters were initially expected to take over the business.
However, they have recently expressed interest in following other opportunities away from the family business. With that in mind, Tuggle said she felt it would be best to go out on top rather than leaving the business in other hands that do not have the same vision.
"Maybe that is a little selfish, but in a way it is not," she said. "We didn't if someone would do it like we want it done, and it would make us sad for it to be not like it always was."
Another factor that led to the decision was the current economy and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through most of 2020, Kathleen's Kitchen was closed to dine-in customers and relied heavily on deliveries. It was only a few months ago that customers were able to return to the restaurant in earnest.
"Everyone in the world knows how very different or world is from a year ago or two or three years ago," she said.
Since then, there have been supply shortages on key items that have led to significant increases in her overhead costs. In particular chicken has seen shortages across the country in recent weeks.
Prior to the shortage a 40 lb. box of chicken could cost $45-50. Now, that same box costs about $100, she said.
The small lobby area of the restaurant was filled with customers who had heard the news of the upcoming closure and wanted to visit one last time before the Sherman staple was gone. Despite the news, little had changed about the storefront and there were no hints that it would soon be gone. The walls were still decorated with knick-knacks, photos of family and more than a dozen Best of Texoma Awards.
"That's been the hardest struggle for me as a business owner and as a person, who has lived in this community, has loved this community and has appreciated the low and support our customers have given," Tuggle said.
Among those who visited the restaurant Thursday was Andrea Hvidsten, who learned about the closure via Facebook. She wanted to get one last serving of the restaurant's chicken salad before it was gone for good, she said.
"She is going to be missed by a lot of people," Hvidsten said. "A lot of people recommend her, and they love her salads, chicken salads and sandwiches. She is going to be missed because Sherman needs more restaurants, and we are losing one of the good ones."