A well-deserved party to celebrate 97 years of life was the occasion held to honor Mrs. Harriett Kennedy Saturday. Kennedy’s three children, Joseph Kennedy, Edward Glover and Harriett Ann Reaves; grandson Woody, family and friends from California, Texas and locals gathered to wish Kennedy a very happy birthday. Kennedy’s family hosted the event at the former H&A Supper Club, which was a booming Guthrie business owned from 1959 to 1983.
“ I feel so blessed to still have my mom with us. She has been the rock of our family for many years. She truly enjoys being with her loving friends and family,” said Reaves.
The party had a live band featuring, “Mr. Guitar,” lots of food and Kennedy even got up to “do the twist.”
Kennedy was born in Birmingham, AL. While growing up in the deep south, her mother died when she was only five years old. Her sister, on a plantation in Louisiana, stepped in to raise her. By age 11, she was receiving culinary training that would help provide a different life for her. In 1945, Kennedy moved to Oklahoma to be near another sister. First living in Oklahoma City then moving to Guthrie when the manufacturing’s company her brother-in-law was employed with relocated.
By 1946, Kennedy and her sister opened a café on 2nd street. Four years later, she chose to change her business and open a grocery store where she extended charge accounts.
“It was a successful business. Very few customers failed to pay their bills,” said Kennedy. The grocery store proved to be profitable and helped Kennedy bring her dreams into fruition. She was able to open a supper club where serving barbecue and steaks were the house specialty. On October 18, 1959, H&A Supper Club’s doors were open. Kennedy picked that day because it was Langston University’s homecoming. Little did she know she would have a wide variety of customers. People of all races and creeds lined up to eat Harriett’s steak and barbecue recipes.
“Mama didn’t turn people away. If they came to the supper club and they didn’t have any money she would still offer them food to eat. That’s just the way she ran her business. She didn’t like to see anybody go hungry,” said, Glover who owned and operated Woody’s Steak and Barbecue from 2001-2012 that featured the magical recipes his mother shared for his own menu.
In 1963, Kennedy’s business was in such demand she was able to expand and provide the home cooked savory steak goodness to all that wanted to partake.
Kennedy recalled the recipe for her success, “Take care of your business from the front door to the back door. I was the person who unlocked the doors everyday and the person to lock them at night. And I treated people right.”
In 1983, H&A Supper Club closed its doors. At the age of 66, Kennedy chose to retire and spend time with her family. “God has been good to me. I’ve had a great life with many great things. If I had it my way, I would live 100 more years, said Kennedy.”