THE BREAKFAST THAT WILL GET YOU ALL FIRED UP. GUARANTEED.
By Elaine Burkhardt
From near and far. From here and there. They flock to the Country Corner Fire Department breakfast from everywhere.
First Saturday of every month take a look at the intersection of two roads between Sperry and Lake Skiatook at about 7 am. You’ll see bikers, runners, walkers, motorcyclists, young and old alike, making a beeline from Tulsa, Sperry, Sand Springs, Skiatook, Broken Arrow and beyond to this delicious all- you-can-eat breakfast.
Just what makes this such a hot breakfast spot in Osage County?
“Well, where else can you eat breakfast in a firehouse?” chuckles Fire Chief Jim Massey.
Where else indeed? Stacks of pancakes, hundreds of scrambled eggs sizzling sausage links and patties and Gladys McIntyre’s famous sausage gravy with biscuits. All for only $5 for adults, $2 for children. In the firehouse.
Saturday morning just doesn't get much better than that.
These volunteer firemen have been serving it up since 1998. It’s the day they park their yellow engines and trade their fire gear for aprons. Takes a whole week of prep getting ready to serve hundreds of people one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever taste. For days before, they fill 200 cups with blueberries and peanut butter to top the pancakes, make the orange juice, coffee and the like. Come Saturday, twenty guys in the kitchen start cooking at 4 am. By 7 o’clock, they’ll be ready for you. Smiles all around. Come rain or shine.
Once you get there, grab a plate a look behind the counter. You’ll see a serving line of the firemen proudly wearing their Country Corner Fire Department t-shirts and dishing up heaping portions of hot food fresh off the griddle.
“We have it down after all these years,” says Massey, who’s been with the Department since the beginning and became Fire Chief in 2001. The
breakfast started six months after the Department began, with 1 counter, a stove, 4-5 servers and about 75 breakfast goers. “Today we serve more than 500 people a morning,” says Massey, “so we’ve got to be organized.”
Continue down the line and take a peek over the firemen’s shoulders. You might get a glimpse of Gary Foshee making those perfectly round, fluffy pancakes, Ron Harvey frying up the sausage, Board member Gwenna Lynch cracking one of hundreds of eggs and – right by the oven – Gladys McIntyre herself.
Ask Gladys what’s the secret in her sausage gravy and her eyes will dance, as she quietly pulls out the next batch of perfectly browned biscuits. “You’ll have to taste it and see for yourself,” she coyly sidesteps.
Gladys' late husband. Bobby McIntyre started the Country Corner Fire Department in 1998 with a couple of old trucks parked in a garage, 12 volunteers and a $3,000 budget. Today they have 23 volunteer firefighters, 2 shiny, high-tech yellow fire engines and 5 additional trucks, a real fire station and a budget of $100,000. “They’re a good bunch,” says Gladys. “Bobby had a vision that we needed to be out here helping, and once he put his mind to something, he got it done.”
The Country Corner Fire Department gets called out about 300 times a year. Even if the alarm sounds during a Saturday breakfast, off they’ll go, leaving the regulars to handle the serving.
As organized in the kitchen as they are on a fire call, the Country Corner unit is a team, cool and collected over a hot stove like they are at a blazing house fire. And, even though secret recipes for sausage gravy and blueberry pancake topping are closely guarded, the size of their hearts is no secret.
Every day, they serve up heaping amounts of community spirit, helping others fight not just deadly fires, but also life threatening diseases like cancer and cystic fibrosis. The breakfast proceeds, about $15,000 a year, contribute to people’s personal battles, and the Country Corner firemen always stand ready to help them win their courageous fights. The monies also go to victims of house fires to help them piece their lives back together.
On any given Saturday, you might see someone like Addy Owen, who is at the breakfast one sunny October morning. Addy is there because she has CF
and needs a lung transplant. The Country Corner unit is raising money to help her “Just Breathe” by donating a portion of this breakfast’s proceeds. And the collection jar is spilling over with dollars from breakfast goers. “They really know how to serve a pancake breakfast here,” says Addy. “It’s amazing how they are trying to help me, and I cry all the time just thinking about it.”
People come here, you see, for more than breakfast. Not only do they want to catch up with neighbors, swap a story or two, but they also want to help the firefighters give back to the community and people like Addy.
“We've really become the focal point of this community out here,” Massey says. In 2003, Country Corner asked residents to vote on a property tax to make it the first publicly funded volunteer department in Osage County.
They needed 60 percent of voters to say yes. They got 92 percent.
“There’s no way we would have that kind of public support if we were just putting out grass fires,” Massey continues. “We put ourselves at the heart of the community, and the community has given back.”
Says Massey, “That’s why we’re here – to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to be part of a team. To make a difference.”
Will Rogers once said, “If you want to be successful, it's just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”
Massey’s philosophy is similar, and he adds, “Although we’ve accomplished a lot, at the same time we’ve accomplished nothing yet. We want to continue serving the breakfasts and, in doing so, serve the community. We want to remain humble..and hungry.”
Country Corner Fire Department
6983 W.113th St. N.
1st Saturday of every month
©Newsgroup Communications 2010
Permission for Osage County to use story and 4 photos on visittheosage.com and print publications, not including any other websites or books