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RIP: Jeff Rogers

11:53 AM EST on December 12, 2022

Before I write anything else this week, I want to send my thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Jeff Rogers. 

As you may have seen, Jeff – the owner/ operator of Cowboy Ranch, Yo! Pablo, and a wide variety of other metro restaurants, bars, and clubs over the years that seemed to shut down just as fast as they opened – died on Friday morning, about 24 hours or so after Pete Bryziki of OKC Talk published a fair but brutal takedown that exposed Jeff’s various business, tax, and legal troubles.

Pete – a message board journalist who briefly owned and nearly ran the Oklahoma Gazette into the ground – curiously deleted his article without explanation after the news of Jeff’s passing hit social media on Friday. The cached version is still available here.

On Sunday, Pete then released – once again, without explanation – an edited report that didn’t mention Jeff’s name. If you ask me, that’s weak sauce. If you’re going to hit a man with a journalism haymaker, at least have the guts to stand by your report when he dies the following day. 

I’m admittedly biased because we did a tiny bit of business together, but I liked Jeff and was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing. 

I got to know him back in 2015 when he advertised his Quail Creek Pink Parrot Cantina on this site. More recently, he hired Hoot to run some short-lived trivia and Singo nights at his Yo Pablo location on Campus Corner. 

Maybe it was because we were two local outcasts who many in the local ruling class wanted to see fail, but Jeff and I got along well. We had different styles and very different ways of doing things, but he had a big personality and, at least around me, didn’t take himself too seriously. We could literally joke and B.S. about any topic. He was a fun guy to be around.

My favorite memory of Jeff took place at the Bricktown Chelino’s way back in 2016. We met up to talk TLO advertising and I brought him a special canister of gummies that I snuck on the plane from a trip to Denver. In the middle of the restaurant, just after the waiter dropped off another round of free chips and salsa and queso, he opened the container and popped a large handful like a kid eating M&Ms. 

As a conservative "Take one gummy and wait two hours" type of guy, I was shocked, and I think the look on my face expressed it.

“It’s going to be a fun day,” he said with a smile. 

I texted him a few hours later to see how he was doing. He simply replied with a string of happy face emojis. 

In 2019, when we opened our podcast studio in Bricktown, Jeff sent over an “On Air” light as a congratulatory housewarming present. Then, the night of our first recording, we realized that we didn’t have a seat for our producer Randy “Mile High” Mitchell. I texted Jeff if he had a bar stool we could borrow. Within minutes, he had one sent over from Tipsy Tiki. We jokingly called it on the broadcast the Jeff Rogers Memorial Stool, something that hits kind of hard today. 

Although I personally liked Jeff, I knew he wasn’t perfect, and Pete’s news report that he deleted and then edited, both without explanation, illustrates that. 

In many ways, I’d say Jeff represented the duality of man. Ask two different people who knew Jeff their thoughts about him, and you’d likely get two very different responses – something I can identify with.

Many of Jeff’s friends, customers, and former employees will remember him as a kind and generous guy who always had their back, and would do anything for them. The tributes on his Facebook page reflect that. That being said, some of his former business partners, competitors, and IRS agents would probably have way less flattering things to say. 

Overall, I’ll remember Jeff as a hard-working, fun-loving guy who provided hospitality and entertainment services that got many people in this town drunk, sweaty, and laid, and a guy who tried hard – perhaps too hard – to always take it to the next level, even as he was losing control and flying too close to the sun.

This city and town will see plenty of other businessmen, restauranteurs, and club owners come and go over its lifetime, but there will only be one Jeff Rogers. 

RIP, dude.

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