We are sad to announce that Hensley’s Top Shelf Grill is now permanently closed. We appreciate our customers and have valued our time in Yukon. Thank you all.
Hensley’s was founded in 1939 and has been a meeting place and mainstay for friends, families, clubs, business professionals, and the road weary travelers of Route 66 and I-40. Over the last 60 years this Oklahoma tradition has been unsurpassed in its true “small town” hospitality and great food at a great value.
The original roadside business was started by Mr. Hutson Marion Hensley, the Comptroller for the Rock Island Railroad. Hensley was up for a promotion and a transfer to Chicago but decided he liked Oklahoma and wanted to stay. He founded Consumers Oil Company, which was an Anderson Pritchard or APCO gas station. In 1939 he added 10 stools and a grill to the side of the station and Hensley’s was born. The remnants of the building are still located on the west side of the original railroad underpass for Highway 81 and Route 66 (about a block east of Rock Island on Elm Street in El Reno). Food service consisted of 10-cent hamburgers and 10-cent pie made by Hensley’s wife (my grandmother) at their home. During World War II, in addition to the original APCO Station and Restaurant, the family expanded the business to two restaurants – the Oxford and the Marianne (named after Grandmother Hensley). The Oxford and Marianne operated in downtown El Reno on Route 66. In those days the original business was referred to as “Consumers”.
Following the war, Route 66 was rerouted over the south Rock Island viaduct so Hensley built a larger restaurant and station at 2100 Sunset Drive. This building had air-conditioning, which was quite a luxury in those days. After Hensley’s death in 1955, the traffic over Route 66 increased, so a larger restaurant was constructed at the same location. Hensley’s wife Marian, son Marion, daughters Dorothy and Linda (my mother), close friend Homer Faler, and later Jim Barker oversaw the business. This was when the name officially became Hensley’s.
In 1969 when Interstate 40 was opened, Linda (Hensley) Kelly, Marian Hensley and Dorothy (Hensley) Paulsen built a new complex for Hensley’s consisting of a restaurant and a Mobil service station at I-40 and Country Club Road. This was the first structure and business to open on Interstate 40 in El Reno and one of the first in the state.
In 1975, Don and Linda Kelly returned to El Reno to actively operate the business. To meet the changing needs of the Interstate traveler, the Best Western was added in 1977 and in 1987 an RV park replaced an expansive truck parking area.
My wife Sadhna and I acquired Hensley’s 1992 (the third generation of Hensley’s). After my service as a United States Naval Aviator, we returned to El Reno to operate the family business full time.
Eventually the building that housed the restaurant was sold. We continued operating the hotel and RV Park and in 2000 we opened a second hotel in Yukon on Mustang Road.
After a many year hiatus from the restaurant business Sadhna and I partnered with Scott Williford and Steve Stavinoha to open Hensley’s Top Shelf Grill. This is not the café Hensley’s once was but is operated with the same principles of great customer service and outstanding meals at a great value. We named it Top Shelf because we want it to be the top dining experience west of Oklahoma City. We want to offer you the top service, the top wine and drinks, and the top meal with the best customer service possible. We have brought together a unique set of talent and I encourage you to get to know each one of them – Operating Partner Steve Stavinoha, Chef Jeremy Anders, and Sommelier/Bar Manager Josh Hill.
Thank you for your patronage,
John Kelly, owner and third generation Hensley’s family member