In 1910, Cattlemen’s Café opened its doors in Oklahoma’s stockyards to serve cowboys, ranchers, cattle haulers and other hungry people. In 2020, the restaurant will mark its 110th year as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Oklahoma City. Several decades its junior, Tubelite Inc. will celebrate its 75th year in business. These companies’ shared history is connected by the very doors that have welcomed patrons into the restaurant for generations.

“The door of a high-traffic entry, like a restaurant, could see literally hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of openings and closings every year,” said Tubelite’s client development manager in Oklahoma, John Wiemer, CDM, CSI, CDT. “Unlike welded doors which require a total door replacement, Tubelite’s doors feature tie-rod assembly.”

As the name describes, Tubelite’s tie-rod constructed doors use steel rods across the top and bottom of the door. The rods are anchored in the vertical stiles and thread through the horizontal rails, tying the stiles to each other with the rails gripped in between. The rods have threaded ends, and are secured with locknuts on both sides. Welded corners have a bracket that gets screwed onto the stile and then welded to the rail. Shear clip corners have a small piece of aluminum channel that is fastened to the stiles and then bolted to the top and bottom rails. In nearly 75 years, Tubelite has no reported failures of its tie-rod doors.

“This durable construction allows our doors to be refurbished, replacing worn parts such as hardware, providing reliable use year after year. With constant use, a door may need some adjustments to ensure smooth operation and performance,” explained Wierner.

With Tubelite’s tie-rod construction, a local installer can adjust the glass blocks and fasteners to bring door leaves back to square with the openings. Replacing the weathering and seals can enhance the entryway for optimal air tightness. Surface wear from millions of contacts with users, such as a well worn rail or a stile, can be replaced. This local approach to maintaining and modifying existing doors may be considerably less expensive, and less wasteful, than full replacement.

Building upon its original structure, Cattlemen’s Café expanded throughout the years. Preserving its classic character, the interior of Cattlemen’s Café features red vinyl booths and low countertop seating that resemble the décor from its early days. The Cattlemen’s Steakhouse was added in the 1950s catering to couples and families going out to enjoy a meal together. Cattlemen’s diners now have a choice of café or restaurant seating, but, regardless of where they sit, everyone orders from the same menu.

While Tubelite’s customers have more options than ever, all continue to depend upon the same, durable tie-rod construction of Tubelite’s doors. Meeting modern performance requirements, Tubelite’s doors can be specified for blast mitigation, hurricane impact resistance and energy efficiency in a choice of sizes, glass types and finishes.

Like its doors, Cattlemen’s has withstood the test of time, spanning two world wars and 19 Presidents. Many veterans, leaders and celebrities have sat at Cattlemen’s tables – from Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush to John Wayne and Reba McEntire. Adding to its recognition, the town is known as Historic Stockyard City and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photography:, Sunny Thomas