Made in Oklahoma: The Prairie Gypsies

Published: September 17, 2008
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/> "We were drinking,” White said. "We were talking about food and about this backpack, and I said, ‘It just makes me feel like a gypsy traipsing across the prairie.' And we looked at each other — we both knew we had the name right there.”

After starting out catering from Leland's house, the pair accepted an invitation to take over a tearoom at NW 51 and Western.

"The house dressing we had was one that people would bring their mayonnaise jars to the kitchen door and ask us to fill them up,” Leland said. "And that's how we started our product line. They are done one small batch at a time.”

The tearoom was too small for the catering operation, so Leland and White moved their kitchen to a small storefront at NW 30 and Walker. They then decided to focus their energies on catering and shut down the tearoom. That didn't go over well with customers.

"We had people acting like they would starve, as if they didn't have any other place in town where they could eat,” Leland said. "We said, ‘Well, if you want to pick up dinner on the way home, we'll do that for you.'”

The Prairie Gypsies now ships 14 products across the country and sells a variety of meals from their kitchen. They say once a person joins their crew, they never truly get to leave.

"We'll call a person and remind them they owe us,” Leland jokes. "It's like being in the mafia — once you get in here, you're never allowed to leave.”

Business Writer Steve Lackmeyer

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B.J. White and Debbie Leland show off some of the garden-grown vegetables used in their kitchen. By Steve Lackmeyer, The Oklahoman

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