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Johnny's Lunch Box may be next landmark to close

The owner of Johnny's Lunch Box says the landmark downtown restaurant will either have to move or close.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: October 26, 2011

Johnny's Lunch Box may be the next legendary Oklahoma City site facing an uncertain future.

The restaurant, which dates back to 1929, is a favorite among legislators, city council members, mayors, business executives and the many construction workers rebuilding downtown.

“You can get vegetables there, you can get a balanced meal,” said former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, one of the many regulars at the Lunch Box. “It's quick, and I love the atmosphere.”

It's a place, Humphreys noted, where a long table is reserved for veteran patrons.

“You've got to be invited to sit there,” Humphreys said. “So ... you have high-powered professionals and just the man off the street.”

Those customers ordered their favorites on Tuesday — the corn beef sandwiches, garlic lemon chicken, homemade pie — unaware that the eatery may have just a few weeks left before it closes.

Owner Joe Johnston is hoping to avoid that fate, but admits he has no easy answers in sight.

When Nick Preftakes bought the building at 423 W Sheridan Ave. a couple of years ago, he told The Oklahoman he had no intention of being the one to close the restaurant.

But Johnston is looking at moving or closing as the lease expires in December with no apparent opportunity to stay in the current location.

Coincidentally, it was one decade ago that Johnston bought the restaurant after it was about to be closed by its longtime owner Aristotle “Johnny” Papahronis.

“When we bought it 10 years ago it was an icon and a legendary location,” Johnston said. “And it's even more so today. And we think it can go a lot longer.”

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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