Top Selling Budweiser Retailer was the King of the Bar Scene

Unfortunately I missed the end of the James Holmes trial but I have been working night and day to get Footprints in the Dew to the printer….

Welcome back. I’m traveling again this week but while I’m on the road I’m excited to bring you the story of a man who was born on August 9, 1932 in Peru, Kansas. A graduate of the Bartlesville High School class of 1950, he would go on to become the third bestselling retailer of Budweiser beer in the country at the time. Kenny Fox is 83 years old now and lives just a few miles outside of Ochelata. This is just a small part of his life story.

After high school Kenny, as I’ll call him, went to work for a utility company doing manual labor. He was a naturally talented artist and after a year and a half he went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company in the Visual Art department. In the evenings he pumped gas for Cab Renick who was already a basketball legend and owned a Phillips service station downtown.

For twenty years Kenny’s paychecks came from Phillips and then when the J Bar and the adjoining restaurant along with a barber shop next door came up for lease, he jumped into the people business. The J Bar was downtown next to the present day courthouse in a small complex of businesses along Johnstone. This is where Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, met her future husband and through the years everyone from Boots Adams to Chub Anderson stopped by for some of Kenny’s hospitality.

There were four rental apartments above the J Bar that Kenny turned into a graphic arts business. With his contacts through Phillips the business was an immediate success.

The Eastland Shopping Center on the east side of town was just getting off the ground when Kenny opened the “Cove” there. The Cove was a beer bar that catered to 18 years olds with pinball games, pool, shuffleboard and the best pizza in town which Kenny often delivered personally. The Cove was so successful that before long he opened the “Fox’s Den” next door which offered hard liquor and featured live entertainment. Kenny also established the first Kawasaki motorcycle shop in town on the corner next to the Cove.

Always on the lookout for opportunity, when Maria’s Steakhouse came up for lease he took it over. Then he opened the Gray Fox, a bar and pizza restaurant in Ponca City. Stillwater soon had a Kenny Fox bar there as well, in a 3 story building right across the street from the campus. He also leased the two adjoining buildings which were across the street from where Eskimo Joe’s is today. The founder of Eskimo Joe’s and a close friend, Stan Barnes consulted with Kenny about possibly buying the building where Eskimo Joe’s is now. Kenny recommended that Stan buy it and the rest is history.

Kenny set up another Fox’s Den bar in Norman where OU’s Selmon brothers tended bar for him. In Fayetteville, AR history repeated itself, with another popular liquor and pizza place. It’s a wonder he wasn’t the #1 retailer in the country!

A beauty shop, a high end antique business, two CB radio stations, a construction company to build the CB towers, the list of business ventures goes on and on. Unfortunately I don’t have the space to do them all justice. Someday if we’re all lucky this guy with his many accomplishments will put everything down in a book.

Coming next week its more big stuff as I report on a week spent in Oklahoma City. I’ll be staying at beautiful Arcadia Lake which is located north of Oklahoma City and east of Edmond. The lake has an 1820 acre surface area, 26 miles of shoreline and there are four camping areas to choose from. I’ll give you all the scoop.

Then it’s back to Denver for the life or death decision for convicted movie theater shooter James Holmes. Till next week, I’ll see ya down the road….