For more than 30 years, Sam and Tami Balzanna dreamed of someday owning and operating their own restaurant. After years of planning and hard work, that dream came true in April 2012 with the opening of The Rock House in Talihina, Oklahoma.
Located four miles north of Talihina, the restaurant is housed in a remodeled rock home situated nearly dead center on the the Balzannas' 283-acre rural property. Patrons seated at nearly every table in The Rock House are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the Kiamichi Mountain Range, the Potato Hills and impressive Buffalo Mountain.
The family's horses graze contentedly on green grass in pastures on all sides of the restaurant.
Natives of Maryland, the couple relocated to southeastern Oklahoma from Pennsylvania twelve years ago while searching for a nice place to raise their five children, who now range in age from 16-33. From the beginning, Tami Balzanna says the business has been a family affair with each of their children and other extended family members working to help get the restaurant off the ground. Prior to opening day, the family worked together to restore the 1920s era rock home, converting each of the rooms into private dining areas seating up to 10-12 people. A large, commercial-grade kitchen was built onto the back of the original rock house.
Though the couple's older children have since moved away from home, youngest daughter, Taryn, is her mom's right hand and does a "phenomenal job of everything from cooking to cleaning to waiting tables."
As the restaurant's reputation for great steak and pasta in Talihina has spread, the Balzannas have seen their customer base grow into Arkansas and Texas. Sam says the restaurant's customers will "travel the distance" for The Rock House's hand-cut grilled-to-order rib-eye and New York strip steaks. Another customer favorite is Tami's Maryland crab cakes, a recipe she borrowed from Sam's mother, but has admittedly "tweaked through the years."
"We like getting to know our customers," Tami says, "and we like offering the personal touch." The couple say they want their customers to enjoy a true dining experience at The Rock House in Talihina - not just stop by for a fast meal.