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Food Network films in finished offices of Pioneer Woman’s new building

On July 30, general contractor Terry Loftis, of J. L. and Associates, LLC, put the finishing touches on second floor office space inside the building being renovated by Ree and Ladd Drummond, so that on July 31, they could host a grand opening party there and film an episode for an upcoming episode of the Pioneer Woman show, which airs weekly on the Food Network.

On July 23, a week before the office move-in date, Loftis provided a tour and detailed description of the renovation process.

The offices occupy the north half of the second floor space.

As Loftis presented the upstairs office space, he commented: “It does take a lot of time and yes, it takes a lot of money, but for people that say you cannot redo an old building, this is my argument.”

The office’s wood floors, original to the building, were carefully sanded and restored with a dark finish, he said.

“Ladd and Ree Drummond will have offices here,” Loftis said.

“This half of the office on the west end here is Drummond Land and Cattle. Tim Drummond’s desk will go here … over here Ladd Drummond. Ladd does a lot of his cattle buying on-line at auction. A 96-inch flat screen TV will go on this wall. The area that I’m standing in will be filled with couches and loveseats.

“This area between the offices is going to be a conference area. The big table that you saw out there will be beneath that light,” Loftis said pointing to a long rectangular light fixture suspended from the ceiling.

“The kitchen had to be flipped downstairs so that the hot wall was not along the north brick wall. Instead, it was moved to the interior wall, he said. To make sure they can’t hear the kitchen below there are “two layers of sheet rock, two layers of sound board, then the exhaust system itself wrapped in sound-proof insulation, two more layers of sheetrock, then on the outside of this wall is actually two layers of sheetrock over two layers of soundboard to make sure they can kick every exhaust on – Ladd doesn’t want to hear it and he won’t,” Loftis said.

According to Loftis, Ree Drummond’s office will be in the northeast portion of the space, he said. Her desk will be located beneath an crystal chandelier, already in place. Another staff desk will also be located in her office. There will be a seating area with sofas and a place for the white oak cabinets.

On the south side of her office, is the original freight elevator, which will continue to be used.

“People have no idea how many requests Ree gets to sign books from all over the world. She’s been signing them downstairs … but a lot of that will be brought upstairs so that she can sign them at her desk or in her seating area.”

Adjacent to the freight elevator on the east side of the building there is a back stairway leading to a private first floor entrance.

In addition to the existing stairway, a new elevator will also be added soon, Loftis said.

He also showed the men’s and women’s bathrooms located south of the offices, finished in white tile with dark wood trim. He described the white tile is an older style laid in a brick pattern, and said the stalls will have full-panel wood doors.

Loftis said: “Notice we’ve matched the transoms. The glass above the stall doors is the original transom glass, he added. “We saved them and are putting them back in.”

The Drummonds are also developing plans for the yet unfinished space on the south side of the second floor.

Describing the south side of the second floor, Loftis said, “This floor will probably have to be replaced. I’m not sure if I can save the wood; it took too much abuse over too many years —the roof leaked forever.”

Describing the plans for this space, Loftis said, “this will be a large, open community room that Ladd and Ree will rent out to people for wedding receptions, birthday parties.

“And once a month, if you’ve ever gotten to go out to the Drummonds’ for Fourth of July and had Ladd’s steak, or you were at the art walk a couple of months back when he cooked the steak that everyone ate, they’re going to have a steak night once a month. Ladd’s going to pull his cooker to town, cook steaks out back. Everyone can sit up here and then they’ll bring you your steak up. We’re going to have a baked potato, maybe a salad bar. They’ll bring sides up from the restaurant. That part hasn’t been determined yet. And there will also be space over here for a dance floor – at least that’s the plan now.”

Loftis pointed to the second floor windows and said, “those are the original wood windows to this building. They were taken out one at a time, rotten pieces were thrown away, refilled back to the original specs. The original trim was installed in 1912. We sanded them down and re-installed them. The entire building has new glass panes, which are double Thermopane with the Argon gas in between. That is one solid unit, by the way. It takes four grown men to lift that window back out of the hole.”

Loftis, who joined the project 15 months ago said, “the windows alone took seven months.”

The outside window frames are wrapped in custom-made metal, “so that the frames can never rot – they’ll never have to be repainted,” Loftis said.

After the second floor tour concluded, Loftis showed the large transformer on the east side of the building near the alley at street level.

Regarding the magnitude of the project, Loftis said, “Sometimes it’s overwhelming. During the first 60 days, people wondered what was taking so long, but we had to add electricity and heat and air,” he said.

“There was 200 amp service on each side of the building. The kitchen alone will take 1,100 amps and you don’t just make electric happen. We had to design and install this,” he said, showing the large transformer. “I had to buy that just to power the kitchen.”

Then Loftis described the enormous heating and air requirements for the 25,760 sq. ft. space. Because, the building has 17 ft. ceilings on the first floor and 12.5 ft. ceilings on the second floor, the heat and air requirements are significant. “Normally, you need a ton of heat and air for every 600 to 800 feet at an eight-ft. ceiling height. The offices alone have 24 ton of heating and air.”

Additional water needed to be piped into the building as well.

“The water was just connected today,” he added, showing the dug-up sidewalk on the south side fronting Main St.

There is no definite finish date projection for the building’s completion. However, Loftis said after everything is finished in the upstairs offices, he will turn his attention to the elevator.

“I’ve got to go to the basement and start building the shaft. The elevator has been ordered. It will be here in 12 weeks. That will continue to move forward.”

The ripple effects of the Drummond enterprise, have already begun to be felt in downtown Pawhuska.

For the first time in many months, there is working being done at the Triangle Building located across the street, Loftis said. “Yesterday and today there are actually two people over in that building working for the first time since I’ve been here. Now, what they’re doing, I don’t have a clue…Mr. Schneider owns it. He’s out of Tulsa. He is the gentleman who restored the old Mayo Hotel downtown Tulsa.”

The restoration has also prompted a bank in Sudan, Kansas, specializing in farm and ranch loans, to lease the next office space just to the north of the building.

“That will be a loan production office for a bank in Sudan….They are a state chartered bank in Kansas. They can have a loan production office in Oklahoma and the loans are then booked back through the bank in Kansas,” Loftis explained.

Regarding the first floor restaurant and shop, Loftis said, “People ask me, ‘Do you really think people are going to come here?’ Well, I’ll put it to you this way, there are 10 to 15 people on an average day who stop, are peering in the windows. We have a guest book over here. We’ve had people from South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, you name it…Ladd and Ree were guests on Paula Deen’s show a couple of years ago and it was filmed in her restaurant in her home town. It basically has the same set up there. It opens about 10:30 for lunch. Paula took them down to the restaurant and people were in line at 9:00 o’clock and two blocks down the street, so they’re hoping they get that kind of response.”

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