For 25 years, Two Frogs has been a fixture on the Southern Oklahoma restaurant scene. The history of the restaurant, however, stretches back further than 1993.
“I never thought I would work in a restaurant,” said owner Aubrey Harris. A 1986 graduate of Dickon High School, Harris got his first taste of the business while waiting tables to help pay for college at Oklahoma State University. He found the work to be enjoyable and exciting, and started wanting to learn more and more about the business.
“I started paying more attention to what was going on in the kitchen, so I eventually switched my major and loved it. From there I took some cooking classes and learned even more.”
After finishing school, Harris found himself working at a restaurant in Dallas. It was here that he met a coworker originally from Pensacola, Florida, who would eventually become both his partner in business and in life, his wife Angeila.
“We’ve been together for 26 years,” Harris reflected. When he returned to Oklahoma to start working on Two Frogs, Angeila was soon by his side. “She added all the special stuff and a woman’s touch to everything.”
The couple began creating recipes from various elements of their many influences, and soon the Two Frogs menu was created. The restaurant officially opened in Lone Grove on April 16, 1993, but it quickly outgrew its original location.
“We had some land on Holiday Drive, and we were originally going to build a new restaurant,” Harris said. However, expenses kept rising, and that’s when they considered purchasing the building that once housed Shoney’s.
“We went and looked around and decided to do a complete remodel,” Harris said. “It just made the most financial sense.”
After the remodel, the new Two Frogs was ready to go, and April 26, 1999 was opening day in Ardmore. It was here where the live entertainment began to truly take off. From the earliest days in Lone Grove, music played a key part in the atmosphere at Two Frogs. Now there was space to showcase the music.
“I really enjoyed having music around me so I started incorporating the bands once I had my restaurant,” Harris said. “My first band I booked at Two Frogs was Tommy Castro. From there, I started booking other bands and put in a stage. The music was just a natural fit.
“Whatever I book, I try to make sure my wife and I both enjoy it. It’s not all about the money, it’s about the enjoyment, too.”
Harris likes to extend that enjoyment to his customers and loves to see his restaurant become a part of others’ memories.
“One of the best things is watching people make memories, and we’re a part of that. Just the other day a little boy said that we were the best thing they had done on their trip. There’s always something cool like that.”
Those people on trips are vital to the restaurant’s success. In fact Harris estimates that over 60 percent of their clientele comes from people who don’t live in the Ardmore area.
“We have so many people from out of town. The interstate is huge for us,” said Harris. Another important source of business is travelers coming into Ardmore for work.
“A lot of these companies bring people in, and they want to eat something out of the norm. They want something cool.” And Harris strives to give them the unique experience they desire.
“My vision has always been, I just want people to come in and get something that they wouldn’t normally experience and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
After discussing the Two Frogs story up until today, Harris mused about the future and the possibility of a second Two Frogs location. A location with more space and the ability to draw even more artists. One thing is certain, if Harris decides he wants to make that happen, it more than likely will.