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‘We’re trying to make it a experience,’ The Pioneer Woman gives tour of newest adventure

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OKLAHOMA -

She traded her high heels for cowboy boots and ended up in golden slippers.

Most know Ree Drummond as “The Pioneer Woman.”

Blogger. Cookbook author. Television show host.

But wait until you hear what she's done now.

She’s turned a dilapidated Pawhuska building into a fan mecca.

She fondly calls it “The Merc."

“We bought it before I saw the inside of it," Ree said. “And, when I walked in, I was like, ‘Honey, what are you thinking?"

“Honey” is her husband, Ladd Drummond, aka “The Marlboro Man.”

"It really looked like something out of a haunted house movie," she said. “It was frightening."

Ladd and Ree began renovating the historic building four years ago, keeping as much of its character as possible while making it 21st century ready.

"It was overwhelming towards the end of the construction,” she laughed. “My husband and I would just look at each other and say 'Oh, my gosh, it's never going to end.’"

‘The Mercantile' opened last month as a retail store, restaurant, bakery and coffee shop.

Everything in 'The Merc' has been handpicked by Ree.

“I just looked for things that appealed to me, that appealed to my sense of color and fun," she said.

Sales have been brisk. Customers are plentiful. And, on many days, fans outnumber the residents of Pawhuska.

In fact, the wait for a seat in her restaurant is a solid 2½ hours.

And, that benefits other Pawhuska businesses like Buffalo Joe’s Restaurant.

"Ree talked to some people today. They didn't want to wait to eat, so she sent them down here and we're just really thankful," said waitress Destiny Winkler.

Ree took Linda Cavanaugh on a tour of the 'The Merc.'

Ree’s favorite place is the bakery.

“I can't begin to describe the ‘carbolishishness’ up here. We have a lemon bar. They go really fast, and it's hard to get them. And, part of that is my father-in-law comes up here and takes them,” she smiled.

Father-in-law Chuck Drummond can usually be found outside visiting with the folks waiting to get into the restaurant and giving advice of his favorite choices.

“I guarantee you the chicken fry here will be the best you've ever ate and, if it's not, come back and tell me and I want to go where you say it's better,” he said.

"The Merc" is just the latest in a line of successes for “The Pioneer Woman, ” the city girl turned country gal.

"You know, I started my blog on a whim. It grew into something I'd never planned. Cookbooks came, and my TV show. Never could I have pictured any of that happening," said the native Oklahoman.

She has one goal for 'The Merc.'

“We're trying to make it an experience for people who come. I think that's why we've had so much fun," Ree said. "I'm loving it."