By: Jim Butcher | Category: Retail | Issue: February 2016
Winganon’s most popular location is the Cafe & Bait Store, which Dean Kinzer and family purchased in 2011. Today, the combination café, bait shop and grocery store features an extensive remodeling by Mr. Dean.
When was the last time you passed through Winganon, Oklahoma, or stopped at its popular bait shop? You may want to revisit soon.
Dean Kinzer, owner and operator of probably the most popular place in the area, the Winganon Café and Bait Store, has just completed a major remodeling project. Many will remember the metal building look, but the new false front gives it a totally different look.
“Mr. Dean” (his popular nickname) reminds everyone, “We often open before daylight and close after dark, and you can find a hot cooked meal, sandwiches, groceries, a walk-in cooler filled with your favorite beer, live bait, and hunting and fishing accessories. And yes, we’re open 365 days a year, including Christmas.”
The Winganon community is located on County Road 320 on the east side of Oologah Lake, eight miles northwest of Chelsea. The lake has a surface of 29,500 acres of water and 209 miles of shoreline with 11 lake-side parks.
The Kinzer family purchased Winganon Bait Store and its five acres in 2011. They added nine storage units in 2012 and 2 RV spots in 2014.
The new store front reads that Winganon was established in 1889, but from research into local history, Mr. Dean believes the actual date may go back as far as 1869. He likes to note that the population back then was: “N-V-M – Not Very Many.” With a smile and laugh, the unofficial mayor adds that today the estimated population of the six square miles generally viewed as Winganon is about 400. “We’ve grown,” he adds.
Today, the store has outstanding hickory smoked BBQ from the kitchen, a modestly stocked general store, and offers fishermen – from the novice to the serious – a fully equipped tackle and bait shop. A fisherman will find jigs and lures personally handmade by Mr. Dean, who enjoyed a 15-year second career as a traveling fisherman throughout North America and Mexico.
So, when someone enters his store and begins talking fishing, he is eager to offer worthwhile advice and suggestions if needed and wanted. In the spring, he offers multiple-week fishing tournaments for those who want to display their skills. Take a few minutes exploring the store, and you’ll find it decorated with eye-catching, full body, wall mounted fishing trophies he personally caught, as well as items historically related to the Winganon community and its Native American history of the Delaware and Cherokee people.
Delaware Indians relocated from what is now Kansas City, Kansas in 1889 to Oklahoma Indian Territory under term of a treaty between the Cherokee and Delaware Tribes. The pride of the community was a public high school built and named Winganon, which in the Delaware language means “Look Forward.” The community then took on the new name. The bridge over the lake is also named Winganon Bridge. “I would like to one day open a Winganon museum with photographs, memorabilia and artifacts. That would be my next project.”
Mr. Dean adds, “I urge motorists traveling in this area to please stop by and say hello. We’ve got cold beer, great hickory BBQ smoked ribs, bologna and brisket. Breakfast is served any time, from croissants to waffles to biscuits and gravy, and much more. We offer cold and hot sandwiches as well as dinners, and meats and cheeses sold by the pound. We value each and every customer, and we welcome ideas and suggestions that will help us serve your better.”
Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.
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