Local cafe is bordering on breakout business

By Michael Bratcher Published: August 3, 2001
Gary Copeland hopes duplication is a success.

From left executive chef John Eccles, kitchen manager Matt Hill and owner Gary Copeland display some fare from The Border Crossing. Staff Photo by Jaconna Aguirre

Owner of The Border Crossing Mexican Restaurant on Main Street, Copeland is now in negotiations to open additional establishments in Oklahoma City within the next year.

Soon diners may be able to purchase his green chile stew the dish that made the restaurant famous at other locations across the metro area.

However, Copeland has no plans to cease operation of his Norman location. As a matter of fact, restaurant visitors will soon have yet another dining option cooking their own Border Crossing food at home.

"Were getting ready to branch out into prepackaged, family-style meals, he said. "We're going to put in a to-go area that will feature regular menu items and other prepackaged foods.

Copeland hopes to open the to-go area of the restaurant within the next six months, just to the east of the restaurant's entrance. He said visitors will be able to bypass the main restaurant and buy ready-to-eat items or items they can cook for themselves at home.

The restaurant was opened in 1977 by Bill Rice and Allen Smith, but Copeland has served as the sole owner since 1982. He said the idea for the restaurant came from New Mexico.

"Allen was married to the lieutenant governor's daughter of New Mexico, and he lived in Santa Fe, Copeland said. "That is where he got most of his recipes, and then he moved back here.

Since the beginning days, the menu has seen some additions. However, the only Tex-Mex item to be found are fajitas.

"We are strictly a Santa Fe-style restaurant, with blue corn tortillas and green chiles, he said. "We don't do a refried bean, but we do a whole bean.

The Border Crossing

WHERE: 606 W Main St., 364-7617

WHEN: Monday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Average lunch for two people $15.

Average dinner for two people $25.

NEXT WEEK: Classic 50's Drive-In.

Editor's Note

Cleveland and McClain counties are home to many locally owned restaurants. Over the next few weeks, The Norman Oklahoman will feature establishments that have been family owned and operated for many years.

Copeland said they make all of their sauces from scratch and their salsa is prepared fresh daily. The restaurant has been featured on the television program "Discover Oklahoma twice and has had recipes printed in major publications. The recipe for Green Chile Stew is included in The Norman Oklahoman today.

"When people walk in here, it's homemade, not cookie-cutter style that you'd get at the corporations, he said. "I think that has a lot to do with our popularity.

When Copeland sits down to eat, many times he'll choose the green chile stew or the green chile special, because he said they are unique products. The stew includes round steak, onion, green chiles, corn and secret spices. To make the green chile special, the stew is put inside a tortilla to form a burrito.

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