The Blue Zones Project just announced that The Owl Shoppe is its very first initiative-approved restaurant in Oklahoma.

The Blue Zones Project just announced that The Owl Shoppe is its very first initiative-approved restaurant in Oklahoma.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony — from 5 to 7 p.m. July 20 at The Owl Shoppe, 6 E. Main St. — is hosted by Blue Zones Project Pottawatomie County.

All are encouraged to come.

“When we heard about the Blue Zones Project we had to be a part of it, because they want what we want, which is to help others live long, healthy, happy lives — and that starts with food,” The Owl Shoppe owner Mandi Billey said. “You are what you eat.”

She said the restaurant was opened in hopes of helping others, to show that eating healthy can be delicious and nutritious.

“Our motto is, 'Treat yourself don't cheat yourself, fresh, delicious food for the mind, body, and soul',” she said.

Billey said there were no healthy choices of restaurants in Shawnee.

“We wanted to give to others all the things we had learned about food and eating right, because many people do not understand how important the food we eat is. Food is life.”

She said her favorite suggestion on the Blue Zones Project pledge card was serving soft drinks in smaller glasses and charging for refills on sugar-laden beverages.

“Sugar is one of the number one killers; it's a real drug,” she said. “It causes many diseases. Soda is mostly sugar and is consumed way to much in our society.”

She said she was scared people would be upset about the smaller glasses and charging for refills, but they haven't been.

“In fact we have been serving a lot less soda, and the people who have ordered it are not asking for refills, which is awesome,” she said. “It shows the people of Shawnee are ready for a change and everyone at The Owl Shoppe is proud to be the first restaurant in our community to help make that change.”

The certification comes even before the Blue Zones Project kickoff event, which is Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon at Shawnee High School's Performing Arts and Athletic Center (PAAC).

Right now an overall resolution of support is still being drafted, intended to rally support for enhancing the wellbeing of residents by encouraging better access to healthful food options.

Mayor Richard Finley said it's a marketing plan, it's not a thing to force people to do.

So, for those concerned they may soon lose their fried food favorites, they need not worry. Blue Zones is not forcing anyone to comply with stiff regulations, rather, it is promoting the availability of healthy choices, Blue Zones Community Program Manager Rachael Melot said.

“If we don't determine our food environment, it will be determined for us by national food chains,” Melot said.

She said an outline of the resolution is now being revised.

Melot said she hopes to bring the finished product before city commissioners as early as August.

For more information, visit www.bluezonesproject.com.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.