GUTHRIE — Debbie Prather, co-owner of The Stables Cafe in Guthrie, typically defers media inquiries to her business partner and husband, Marc Prather. It's he who has the bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management from Oklahoma State University.
But she easily contributes 50 percent or more to the restaurant that turned 25 years old on Dec. 10. Ever since she worked as a waitress in high school, she's dreamed of owning her own place. And after her husband recovered from a brain tumor a decade ago, Debbie Prather pretty much holds the reins to Stables, which employs 40 and had $1.5 million in revenue last year.
From her 9,000-square-foot cafe at 223 N Division in Guthrie, which seats 275 and is open seven days a week, Prather, 54, sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about her personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: I grew up in Enid, the youngest of my parents' five children. My mother was a homemaker and my father worked several jobs at Vance Air Force Base, from fueling planes to carpentry. Previously, he'd worked a dozen or more years in the military, but separated from the service when I, shortly after I was born, became really ill with some sort of scarlet or rheumatic fever in the Philippines. Until I was 8, I suffered periodic, monthlong fevers.
Q: What were the highlights of your childhood?
A: I performed in plays and sang in the high school and church choirs. I also roller-skated and competed in figure, dance, speed and freestyle skating. The last time I was on skates was six years ago at a rink in Guthrie. I still had it; they wanted to order me some special skates.
Q: And college?
A: I lived life through my older sister and brothers, whose heydays were in the '60s. My brothers staged rock bands on our front porch for all the neighbors. Largely because of their influence, I felt hippies didn't need to go to college.
From 16 on, I worked as a waitress and night manager for three different restaurants, before going to work for an oil company in accounts payable.
Q: How'd you meet your husband?
A: At lunch, at the salad bar, at a restaurant he was managing in Enid. We'd both had previous marriages and when we married 18 months later, I became an instant mother to his then 4-year-old daughter, who we ended up raising. I'd suffered infertility in my first marriage and was ecstatic to mother a child. We're still really close.