Iconic Route 66 favorite Tee Pee Drive-In reopens in Sapulpa

A new era has dawned on Sapulpa as the gates swing open to the Tee Pee Drive-In and the historic Route 66 icon’s screen blazes to life once more.

After sitting dark for nearly a quarter-century, the Tee Pee Drive-In held its grand opening on Saturday, April 15th, to a great day of festivities and food, capped off by an evening under the stars watching the recently-released “Super Mario Bros.”

Everyone familiar with the Tee Pee has been anxiously awaiting its reopening since news first broke about the selling of the drive-in to the Kante Group, part of the family of organizations by local entrepreneur and CEO of SeneGence International Joni Rogers-Kante. Within days, tractors and excavators were at the site mowing overgrown grass and clearing debris from the property. 

Initial reports said that the drive-in might open later that year, but those rumors proved false as an application for permits for the renovations came before the Sapulpa Planning Commission showing plans to expand the property to be a multi-use outdoor entertainment venue. The project included a drive-in theatre, short-term rentals, food trucks and an outdoor dining area, a playground, and a structure for a bar, snacks, and possible novelty shop of some sort.

Nearly all of it was available at the grand opening except for the cocktail bar, which is delayed while their liquor license gets processed.

“We had 800 people come to the grand opening,” Kante Group Operations and Events Manager Haley Smalley told Sapulpa Herald. “We had food trucks, yard games, and a great movie. Everyone had a lot of fun,” she said.

A pleasant Saturday morning gave way to a blustery and cloudy chill that drove an early end to the car show, but those who returned for the movie were, by all accounts, enjoying themselves.

The Tee Pee Drive-In, which last closed in 1999, sat unused for over two decades before enjoying the limelight once again, including among those who are die-hard Route 66 fans.

“Route 66 is known as a road of the past, but it’s always been a road of the future, too,” said Rhys Martin, the President of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association. “The reopening of the Tee Pee shows that we can pay homage to the things that have always made Route 66 special while providing new experiences that make memories for the next generation.”

For now, showings will remain on the weekends, with plans to possibly expand them into the summer months.