“Oh you MUST get the fried chicken!” the family at the next table calls over. “It’s fabulous!”
Sometimes the snug, cozy, white-walled interior of Wanda J’s Next Generation restaurant seems like a gathering of old friends. And of course they’re right – that sizzling juicy chicken is a miracle of succulence and crunch, worth a trip from anywhere, and those sides (fried corn on the cob, mac and cheese, greens) are just fine, too.
So give your order to the waitress. She’s also the chef, the dishwasher and the owner. Five sisters run this place in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, and if they look more like college kids than waitresses, it’s because they are. Tonight it’s Glory Walker, her hair pulled back and her glasses slipping down a bit, who takes your order.
“When we were little, we stood on a step stool behind the register at Grandma’s restaurant, walked behind the waitresses, and we baked, too,” she says. “Grandma has a special touch and we learned it all. We don’t use recipes when we cook; we add a pinch or a dash. We just look at it and know what’s missing. We do it all, but they come check on us.”
Grandma is famed Tulsa chef Wanda J. Armstrong, who has been wowing Tulsa with her Southern cooking since the early 1970s. She’s not here tonight, but the sisters’ mom, Crisshone Walker, watches from the register as, in back, Glory and another of her sisters dredge chicken legs in flour. Their father, Ty Walker (Wanda’s son and himself an expert chef and restaurateur), has come in to help, and the whole family works together.
“So, do you picture yourself doing this for the rest of your life?” Glory is asked.
“Oh no!” she answers. “I’d like to get more involved at the catering end of the business.”