The Duncan Banner

July 10, 2013

Restaurant owner ready to ‘bring it’ to lakes concessions

Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Concessions and catfish — the fried kind that’s ready to eat on the spot — could be coming to Clear Creek Lake courtesy of the city and the owner of Jonny’s restaurant in Duncan.

The Duncan Public Utilities Authority, whose members serve on the City Council, approved a concessionaire contract on Tuesday for Jonny’s owner Gay Lynn McCormick.

As part of that, the authority also approved $33,675 in repairs and renovations at a now-empty concession building at Clear Creek, one of the four Duncan Area Lakes in Stephens County owned by the city. The 660-acre lake is about 13 miles northeast of Duncan.

The Lakes Commission, an advisory board for Duncan lakes, recommended the authority approve the repairs and choose McCormick as the concession operator. The repair money is coming out of money that had been set aside for campsite improvements.

McCormick could not attend Tuesday’s meeting but said earlier in the day that she was excited about the prospects.

“It’s kind of like the life has been taken out of the city lakes and I understand the drought has not helped, but it seems like such a wonderful asset and a wonderful opportunity for me,” she said.

 At one time, there were restaurants and concessions at all four lakes — Clear Creek, Fuqua, Humphreys and Duncan Lake, said Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn.

 There was an operating concession at Duncan Lake in 2012 but it went out of business, leaving nowhere on lake property to buy food, ice, bait and other items.

 “So the idea of having Jonny’s at Clear Creek is pretty exciting from many perspectives,” Vaughn said.

 Jonny’s, located at Oak Tree Shopping Center in Duncan, is known for its chicken tenders, hand-battered chicken fried steaks, burgers, gravy and Texas toast.

McCormick has owned the restaurant since August 2007.

 As a lake concessionaire, McCormick plans to sell city lake permits for fishing, boating and other activities, and bait and food. Items such as kiddie fishing poles, floats, life jackets, beach towels, T-shirts and ice chests would be for sale.

 McCormick eventually wants to have a “Jonny’s at Clear Creek,” offering most of the current restaurant’s menu but with catfish as the featured item. If business progresses, she hopes to have covered, outdoor seating.

 But her plans were contingent on the city making repairs to the concession building. They include replacing the roof and flooring, repairing or replacing a storage building and removing a previous owner’s cooler units.

 Vaughn said it will take some time to make the needed repairs, but McCormick said it was possible operations could begin this fall.

 Her family has a long history of owning and operating concessions at the lake and she said she wants to get that started again.