Within minutes of arriving at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, a young woman with a cheerful smile and a gift for hospitality greeted us.
Her name was Meg.
Meg’s job is to welcome visitors to The Merc and ensure they are as comfortable as possible while waiting in line (sometimes for hours) to taste Ree Drummond’s recipes.
It was obvious to us that Meg loved her summer job and that she was just the right person to welcome people to Pawhuska and make them forget how long they’d been waiting in that line for a chicken fried steak.
I asked her how she got this gig, suspecting she’d stopped by a job fair or applied online. Nope. Ree texted her. Turns out, Meg is Meg Kane. Daughter of Hyacinth Kane – who, if you’ve watched Food Network’s The Pioneer Woman at all, you know is Ree’s BFF.
“My family is good friends with the Drummonds and Ree just texted me and asked if I needed a job for the summer,” Meg said. “I told her, ‘sure.’ I could talk to people all day.”
And that’s exactly what she does.
We returned to The Merc our second day in Pawhuska to find Meg walking up and down the line of visitors, handing out icy cold popsicles and sidewalk chalk and answering questions.
Her younger brother, Phillip, sometimes hangs out in the line with her, giving people complimentary bottled water or passing out umbrellas to help block the blazing Oklahoma sun. Can you believe the hospitality at this place? Who does this?
They also do what they can to keep people occupied and focused on something other than the homemade cinnamon rolls waiting for them inside.
They lead Pioneer Woman trivia contests and play minute-to-win-it challenges with people who have traveled from near and far. And if you’re wondering if the winners get to advance in line, the answer is no. Everyone’s a VIP here.
I was curious about the questions Meg gets asked each day and sure enough, she was kind enough to share them with us. Here are the nine questions she said she gets asked the most, along with her typical answers.
Q: What’s this line for? (Meg says this is the #1 most-asked question, by far)
A: The line is for people waiting to be seated for a meal inside The Pioneer Woman Mercantile deli.
Q: Is Ree here?
A: Depends on the day but she’s usually here every two or three days when she’s in town.
Q: How long is the wait?
A: The wait can be anywhere from a few minutes to four hours. We measure the length of the wait by looking at the lines in between buildings on the block. Sometimes when I tell people it might be three hours I’m shocked at how nice they are and how willing they are to wait. You’d think they’d be throwing a fit, but they don’t.
[Note: The line seemed to move very quickly at the “grab and go” counter where you can purchase prepared hot or cold meals like Ree’s chicken spaghetti, a turkey sandwich, or her Asian beef salad. Just before noon, we were able to get through the line with our “grab and go” purchases in about 10 minutes.]
Q: What’s that building across the street?
A: It’s called the Triangle Building and it has been around since 1913. During Osage County’s oil boom, it is said to have housed offices for as many as 180 lawyers. It is currently under renovation.
Q: What are your favorite items on the menu?
A: I love the queso dip and the chicken parm is amazing.
Q: Do they enforce the two-hour parking out front?
A: I probably shouldn’t say this, but not really.
Q: Are you from Pawhuska?
A: Yes, I was born and raised in Pawhuska. In fact, I’m one of the very last babies born in the Pawhuska Hospital. There is still a hospital here, but they don’t deliver babies anymore.
Q: Where’s the bathroom?
A: There is one on the first floor of the Merc near the gift-wrap counter and one on the second floor near the bakery.
Q: Is there a bar in town?
A: Yes, but don’t go in there wearing your Chacos.
Q: Is Bre here?
A: Do you even know where you are?
Meg told us at the end of the summer, she plans to return to the University of Oklahoma where she is studying to be a nurse. As for summer jobs, she was quick to say this has been her best job ever.
“I used to work across the street at the Prairie Dog (a local hot dog shop),” Meg said. “It was a good job but my mom always went around town calling me the wiener girl. I’d say, ‘really, mom?”
So, for now, Meg will keep answering questions, handing out water, and meeting new people from all over the world, who might never have come to Pawhuska, if not for The Pioneer Woman. “I meet the most incredible people in this line,” she said. “The people who are from here and the people who come here are just real genuine. “
And as far as we can tell, Meg is as genuine as they come.
Note: Thank you, Meg Kane, for taking the time to visit with us and for allowing us to publish your comments. YOU ROCK!
As always, thanks for sharing (and Pinning)!