Editor’s note: when we first published this story, we may have caused some confusion about Steak & Eggs ownership. The restaurant was originally owned by David Mortazavi, his brother Jerry Mortazavi, and Joan Williams. When Joan passed away in 2011, she left ownership of the restaurant to David and Jerry, who still own it to this day.
David Mortazavi opens the Steak & Eggs restaurant at the corner of Taft and Mission every morning with Sapulpa on his mind.
“One thing I always want my customers to know, is that when they eat here, the money always goes back into the community,” he said.
A cursory glance at their charitable giving will show you that his words are true. Since opening in 1994, Steak & Eggs has poured money back into Sapulpa through donations to Cub Scouts, ROTC, Veterans, Little League teams, Yearbook advertisements, Football teams, and more.
Even more so, David makes it a point to help people on a personal basis, whether they work for him or not.
“Two days ago,” he said, “I had a lady come in here who owed $1100 on her electric bill. She’d had no electric for eight months. We helped her with that.”
It’s a reputation that he’s built steadily since coming over from Iran in 1983. People in the neighborhood will tell you: if you need help, call David Mortazavi.
When David was three and living in Iran, he was hit in the head by a rock while playing with some other children, injuring his eye. The doctor there didn’t have the skills or tools that David needed. He told him, “If you really want to do this right, you need to go to America.”
So he did. At the age of seven, he and his brother Jerry came to America, eventually settling in Oklahoma City. Even then, he couldn’t get the surgery right away—he had no money and no insurance. By the time he was able to afford it, it was too late. He’s only been able to see out of one eye ever since.
Shortly after arriving in the States, David got caught swimming in an a pool that he wasn’t allowed in. It was here that he met Joan Williams, who became another mother to him. She took him in and raised him. Taught him english.
Years later, it was Joan who loaned him part of the money he needed to start Steak & Eggs. It was her kindness to him that inspired him to be kind to others.
Joan passed away in 2011, leaving her portion of Steak & Eggs to David and his brother Jerry.
From the time he was fourteen, David was working. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at Mamalous in Oklahoma City. He worked himself up to cook, and then went to the location they’d opened up in Town West, where he became manager.
So popular was David and his staff that years later, when he started Steak & Eggs, a lot of his regulars followed him there. “We were packed from day one,” he says.
Steak & Eggs became well-known not just for their hospitality and endearment towards Veterans, but for their breakfast. The morning crowd became so thick that when they began closing at nights to renovate the room that would become “Veterans Hall”, they decided to leave it that way.
The Veterans Hall turned into a big hit. With all it’s photos of Sapulpa-area veterans, it draws in patriots all over. “We have people coming from out of town to see grandpa,” David says.
To this day, Steak & Eggs has never charged to use Veterans Hall for events. They’ve had several organizations take them up on it, including The Lions Club and several Churches. The Health Department has several of their committee meetings there.
For customers who want dinner, David is happy to send them across the street to Cafe USA. He doesn’t see them as competitors because they’re still local.
“We have no competition,” David says. “We should be supporting all local businesses.”
In fact, David’s support for local businesses is so strong that on several occasions, he’s reached out to help others who wanted to start one. The short-lived Courthouse Cafe (formerly also known as Rivett’s and then Al’s Route 66 Cafe) will be opening it’s doors again, under new ownership, in part thanks to David Mortazavi.
At one time, Steak & Eggs operated eleven locations. They sold most of them to the managers and employees that wanted to be business owners, choosing to only keep the Sapulpa location and another one in Okmulgee.
For David, it’s all about building each other up and giving others an opportunity to have the same chances he had. His desire is to see others in Sapulpa follow suit.
“Do your business in Sapulpa. The best deals are at mom and pop businesses. If you have problems with a business, don’t just take it to Social Media—talk to the managers. Remember, there’s always two sides to the story.”
Featured Image: From left to right: The Mortazavi family: Shae, Shirin, Jennifer, David, Kaivon and Cameron.