Judy Fuhrhop and Cathie CarothersPhoto by Christian Toews

Judy Fuhrhop and Cathie Carothers. Owners of the Fort Towson Depot Steakhouse.

Indigenous women-owned steakhouse bring fine dining to Fort Towson

By Christian Toews
May 1, 2023

Something new is happening at the historic train depot in Fort Towson, Oklahoma.

Cherokee visionary Cathie Carothers and Choctaw Chef Judy Fuhrhop have combined business savvy and cooking skills to bring fine dining to Choctaw County with the opening of the Fort Towson Depot Steakhouse.

Customers can experience high-end cuisine without driving to Dallas or Oklahoma City.

The Depot Steakhouse features cook-to-order steaks, creative appetizers, fine wines and homemade desserts in a white tablecloth setting.

Carothers was the inspiration behind the idea for the steakhouse.

She relocated to the area in 2013 and noticed the Fort Towson Depot building was empty.

Carothers dreamed of using that space to create a destination steakhouse to serve the local area and the increasing number of travelers headed to the expanding Hochatown, Oklahoma area.

“We are trying to rebuild the town. It’s very small; there aren’t many businesses here. We want it to become a destination location. This is one step in doing that,” said Carothers.

After extensive renovations, the depot has been completely reimagined from a train depot to an elegant dining area.

“I wanted a fine dining spot to eat,” Carothers explained. “The Raymond Gary Lake attracts people from all over who enjoy its quiet, scenic beauty. Ending an idyllic day with a relaxing meal makes the experience even more special.”

Carothers’ vision for the restaurant is apparent, from the color choices to the custom drink names. With crystal chandeliers, classically patterned wallpaper, and custom drapery, all designed and renovated by Carothers.

Fuhrhop grew up in Durant, Oklahoma, but her Choctaw County roots run deep.

Her Choctaw grandfather is buried in the historic Grant Cemetery. Fuhrhop and her husband wanted to come home to the Choctaw part of Oklahoma.

According to Fuhrhop, they were on a weekend drive when they found a picturesque home for sale on the shore of Lake Raymond Gary and knew they had found their place to call home.

“We fell in love with that view of the lake and put in an offer that same day,” Fuhrhop said.

The Depot Steakhouse is not Fuhrhop’s first restaurant experience.

Depot Steakhouse
Photo by Christian Toews

The Fort Towson Depot Steakhouse.

For three years, she ran a successful sandwich shop and catering business in Sabine Pass, Texas.

Fuhrhop then relocated to Fort Worth, where she ran a kitchen design and remodeling business.

She organized and coordinated the annual food show, Zestfest, in Dallas-Fort Worth for 11 years.

“I am Grandma trained, not culinary school trained,” said Fuhrhop. “I grew up with my grandmother and learned to cook in her kitchen; then honed my skills under the tutelage of Mrs. Winona Boatner, who was an icon of home economics education at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

The restaurant was initially supposed to open in 2020, but supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the plans.

Everything finally came together in late August of 2022, and Fort Towson Depot Steakhouse was able to begin service.

The steakhouse is open Friday night and Saturday night for menu service, plus Sunday for an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet.

The restaurant has rapidly grown in popularity. At customers’ request, the steakhouse will also be open on Thursday evenings, beginning April 2023.

There will be a ribbon cutting and open house on June 8, 2023. Carothers and Fuhrhop invite everyone to the ribbon cutting at 4 p.m., and open house at 5 p.m. Visit their Facebook page to learn more about Fort Towson Depot Steakhouse.

Photos by Christian Toews