Jamie Winteroth

Last Updated: May 30, 2024By

Depending on your sense of humor, Miss Choctaw 1997 is the best place to start, especially if you know Jamie Winteroth nee Fritts.

“I’m going to find a picture, but just know the whole idea of pageants hurts my feminist heart; I did it for scholarship money,” Jamie Winteroth, operating partner and co-founder of Shared Plate Hospitality, said. 

Houston-born Fritts moved to Oklahoma with her family when she was five, and she became Winteroth in 2009, when she married her now husband and business partner Jordan Winteroth. But the young woman who won the Miss Choctaw contest in 1997 had no intentions of owning restaurants; she was headed for a fashion design career, but her jobs in high school and college were all hospitality related, including opening the now defunct Joseppi’s Italian Kitchen in Stillwater.

“I worked at a sno-cone stand in Choctaw when I was 16, and then at Dawson’s Restaurant, also in Choctaw,” Winteroth said. “I used to sing for tips.”

What? Sometimes a piece of information comes up – like Miss Choctaw 1997 or singing for tips Macaroni Grill-style – and you realize you didn’t know someone as well as you assumed.

“You sang for tips? You can sing?”

Winteroth laughed. “I don’t sing much anymore, but yeah, I had to choose between cheer and choir in high school, and I chose cheer.”

Like so many choices, that one created a new set of possibilities and closed the door on many others. Her decision to pursue cheerleading led to a scholarship at Rose State, which she fulfilled before moving on to Oklahoma State as a junior to finish her fashion design degree, which in turn helped her land an internship at BCBG in Los Angeles. In L.A. she realized the path she thought she wanted didn’t suit her well, so she returned to the OKC metro and began working at Boulevard Steakhouse, where she’d meet two mentors: the late, great Pete Holloway, and the now owner of Stella Modern Italian, Lori Burson. 

“Lori hired me at Boulevard,” Winteroth said. “Working for Pete was a wonderful experience; it’s where I fell in love with fine dining.”

Over the next few years, she worked for Holloway Restaurant Group, Central Liquors (now Republic National Distributing) and Deep Fork Restaurant Group, where she met Jordan Winteroth. Their son Sebastian was born in 2009, and Jordan went to work for Republic Gastropub, both he and Jamie thinking it would be better if they worked for different hospitality outfits.

“By the time Sebastian was four, Jordan and I were both doing 70-hour weeks, and we knew it wasn’t right,” she said. “Every job I’ve ever had – catering, selling wine, and the bank – was a result of this industry and the people I met.”

The bank gig, which made it possible to have a stable schedule with a toddler about to start school for at least one of the parents, came about as a result of Jamie’s sister having a massage therapy client who offered Jamie the job. The stability allowed for the couple to do something they’d talked about since early in their hospitality careers: own their own restaurant.

“When Daniel Chae closed his restaurant, he reached out to offer us the building,” Winteroth said. “Owning the building is such a big piece of success and independence in hospitality. The bank job had also given me the vocabulary and know-how to deal with the paperwork, loan process, and all that goes into the business side of acquiring and running a restaurant.”

Social Deck and Dining opened December 18, 2018. The Winteroths had sold their house, using the equity to pay down debt to get the loan and offer a down payment. They were truly all in at that point.

“We didn’t have a five-year plan or a business plan,” she said. “We had a great network of friends and supporters, and we knew what to do and not do. That was it, but we said, ‘Let’s do this!’ I kept the bank job until 2019, just for the stability.”

Everyone knows what’s next. 2020. A new restaurant. One hard asset in the form of a building, which is to say a restaurant where guests could not eat beginning in March 2020. Their story is their own, but it’s also that of thousands of operators around the country – food industry sources estimate there are roughly 750,000 restaurants in the U.S. as of 2023, a number that is surely smaller than in February 2020. 

Social is “my baby,” per Jamie. They subsequently acquired Aurora in Plaza District, and Rev MEX on Classen, but they own every part of Social, and it was their first non-human baby. Before COVID, they had what she called “a pipe dream” of what the restaurant could be. The couple loved the Pacific Northwest, with its communal meals, brunch, bubbles, and simple, flavorful food.

“From the beginning, and still today, we have a mantra,” she said. “Simple done well.” 

That works well unless your restaurant is closed due to a pandemic. At that point, you have to pivot, and their years in the industry helped the couple adapt. Running a restaurant is all about adapting to today’s circumstance: staffing, deliveries, menu items, guests – all contain the potential to be problematic, even disastrous, so you learn to adapt, to make decisions that sometimes are the least sucky choice among sucky choices.

Social went from weekday brunch to “brunch boxes,” roasting pans full of brunch for 2, 4, or any number they could pack into a pan so guests could pull up curbside and get Sunday brunch. It was so popular that other operators either emulated it or asked them to change their pricing so they could more easily compete. 

Now, in 2024, those are troubled memories, but they are indicators of people who survive and thrive because they adapt. The Winteroths hired Chef Jerrod Driskill in 2023, and so Social has begun a new chapter. Simple done well, yes, and still the shareable, communal approach, but Driskill’s food is also refined, chef-y (if they’ll forgive the descriptor) without being pretentious. Crispy potato salad is one of the best things – maybe the best – on the new menu. At the center of it, though, are the Winteroths. And they look proud of their baby that’s become a toddler.

“We are proud. I couldn’t be more proud,” Jamie said. They’ve earned it. 

First Published in Luxiere

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