Irena Kendrick was born February 5, 1976, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She immigrated to Oklahoma, by way of Germany, as a war refugee when she was 22. After slogging away as a pre-legal subrogation specialist for a decade, Irena cashed in her 401K and opened a restaurant, Joey’s Pizzeria, in Oklahoma City in 2007. She broke her own rule about not dating customers, just one time, and that customer became her husband earlier this year. Now, she and her husband run the restaurant together, along with Irena’s oldest daughter as lead waitress. In addition to slinging Chicago-style pizza, Irena likes to incorporate Balkan cuisine, especially for her regular customers on Fridays.
Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 24, December 15, 2014.