Reba McEntire Initially Said ‘Absolutely Not’ To Opening Reba’s Place

Reba McEntire loves Oklahoma, where she was born and raised. The 68-year-old grew up on a ranch in Chockie, Oklahoma, where she, by her own admission, lived a charmed life with her parents and three siblings.

“Lots of great memories,” she says of her childhood, as part of NBC‘s Inspiring America series. “Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t left.”

McEntire grew up in the country, but she visited the nearby town of Atoka frequently.

“Atoka was the big town where you had the dry-cleaning, groceries, banking,” McEntire shares, recalling a time she and her little sister wanted to go to the movies.

“We got there, and we realized we didn’t have any money,” the Country Music Hall of Fame member remembers with a laugh. “So we took the backseat out of Mama’s car, and we found enough change to get in, get some popcorn, get us a drink.”

McEntire returned to Atoka when her mother was ill, staying with her until she passed away in March of 2020. It was a bittersweet time for McEntire, who got emotional remembering her mother’s final days.

“I slept with her,” McEntire recounted. “We cuddled. I said, ‘What am I going to do when you leave?’ She said, ‘Oh you’ll be fine. She’s always been my rock.”

It was while McEntire was in Atoka  that she realized how dire the town had become, with businesses boarded up and an estimated one in three people living in poverty within the town limits. A McEntire family friend, Carol Ervin, who also serves as Atoka’s Economic Development Director had the idea of McEntire opening up a restaurant, to bring people back to the small town. It was an idea the “Fancy” singer initially refused.

“I said, ‘Absolutely not. I don’t know anything about the restaurant business. I’m not that good of a cook anyway,'” McEntire says with a laugh.

Fortunately, Ervin was able to sway McEntire, and Reba’s Place opened earlier this year. And now, no one is prouder of Reba’s Place than McEntire.

Courtesy of Reba’s Place/Facebook


“There are kids working here that, some of them never worked in a restaurant before, so they’re learning, and they’re learning a trade, a craft,” she says. “And that’s very important.”

While Reba’s Place revitalized a once-sleepy town, bringing new businesses, new revenue and new opportunities, McEntire humbly deflects some of the credit.

“I want them to take away that Reba was a small part of a great story, a successful story, one that’s still growing, one that’s still thriving, and one that’s talked about all over the state of Oklahoma,” she says.

McEntire will serve as a coach for the upcoming season on The Voice, filling the place left vacant by Blake Shelton‘s departure. Her Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots, along with an accompanying album, will be released on October 10.

More information on Reba’s Place can be found at Find McEntire’s music and upcoming shows at

Read ‘Reba McEntire: 11 Things to Know About the Country Music Legend’ here.