OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen is once again responding to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s decision to terminate its contract with the restaurant chain following corruption and fraud allegations.

In mid-April, a report by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency was raising eyebrows about a four-month investigation into significant expenditure growth by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The report focused on lawmaker concerns regarding a contract with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q restaurants.

Officials say the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has paid $13 million to Swadley’s Bar-B-Q restaurants to renovate and run the Foggy Bottom Kitchens in certain Oklahoma state parks.

On Monday, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department announced that it was canceling the lease concession agreement with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen.

The department said it started an internal investigation in the fall of 2021 after “reports of financial irregularities were brought to our attention.”

According to the statement, the department said it was canceling the contract due to “suspected fraudulent activity and questionable business practices.”

Following the cancellation, Swadley’s said they would “be forced to eliminate the positions of close to 300 employees.”

Now, Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen is speaking out after 6 of its locations in Oklahoma State Parks have been closed.

“Swadley’s is proud of the work it has done in Oklahoma’s beautiful state parks. As part of an effort to modernize those parks, Swadley’s entered into a contract with the Oklahoma State Tourism Department in March of 2020 to redesign, rebuild, and revitalize six restaurants on state park properties. Despite the logistical complexities presented by the location of these restaurant sites, Swadley’s completed its work on the six restaurants in less than two years.

From the beginning, Swadley’s acknowledged and accepted that this project would be a difficult undertaking, but the extent of the decay and neglect at the various restaurants made it more difficult than either party initially anticipated. For example, when Swadley’s employees went to conduct an initial assessment of the work needed at Robbers Cave State Park near Wilburton, park personnel provided Swadley’s staff with a case (not a can) of wasp spray so they could safely enter the dilapidated property. Because of the years of neglect causing mold and substantial decay to mechanical systems, the Robbers Cave State Park restaurant was in such bad shape that it required an unanticipated total rebuild.

Another unfortunate complication was the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased costs of labor and raw materials during this project and was accompanied by restrictions on indoor dining and a general decrease in restaurant traffic. Despite these immense challenges, Swadley’s completed and opened restaurants at Lake Murray, Beavers Bend, Quartz Mountain, Robbers Cave, Sequoyah, and Roman Nose. The ‘before and after’ pictures speak for themselves (see attached).Swadley’s is proud of the hard work of our employees, which brought the amenities at these state parks in line with the breathtaking natural beauty our great state has to offer. Swadley’s leadership team is disappointed by the recent decision to terminate its contract, and heartbroken for the hundreds of employees whose livelihoods are directly impacted.”

Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, LLC

The Governor and Lt. Governor spoke on Friday to address the situation and deny allegations of corruption regarding the contract.

The State has filed a lawsuit against Swadley’s.

The head of Tourism has also resigned amid the investigation.