View Full Version : Nonna's Painted Door/Cracker Barrel

08-16-2004, 12:31 AM
I know most of you saw this article in today's Sunday, but I thought I'd post it here.

I've been to the Nonna's on the southsite. It's quite a place. I can't wait to see what the Bricktown location looks like. The upstairs second floor patio looks like it's going to be impressive. What's cool about this addition is that it's adding an upscale "local" establishment to th Bricktown area. I love seeing local establishments such as this one locate in Bricktown. What's great about this establishment is that it's both a restaurant and retail shop in one. It will add to the retail sector in Bricktown, something that is desparately needed. If adding retail to a restaurant is what it takes to get retail in Bricktown, I'm all for it!

Anyone for a Cracker Barrel in one of the warehouses on the canal? I know this is a chain restaurant, but I think a Cracker Barrel would be another great addition to te Bricktown area. I can just see those rockers rocking on a pation fronting the canal!!! And all Cracker Barrel's have decent sized gift shops so again it would add to the retail sector in the area.

Nonna's will be great because it also adds a new restaurant type to the area: a cafe/bakery. Nonna's should do very well in Bricktown because of the uniqueness it will add to the district!
Here's the article:
"Owner's vision grows

By Tricia Pemberton
The Oklahoman

Avis Scaramucci admits that when she opened a gift shop 13 years ago in south Oklahoma City she didn't know what she was getting into.

The then 44-year-old wife, mother and music education major had never worked a day of retail in her life.
Still, she believed she had an eye for the extraordinary and a gift for customer service.

So she pursued her dream and opened The Painted Door Gallery, a store selling personal gifts, home accessories, kitchen necessities and trendy clothing.

Three add-ons later, Scaramucci's original 4,000-square-foot gift shop with three employees now includes Nonna's Bakery & Cafe at 8601 S Western Ave. The staff now numbers almost 60, and the business occupies 14,000 square feet.

And over the years, Scaramucci has grown in her knowledge of how to take care of customers' needs.

"I think of how I would like to be treated," she said. "I'm always gauging how I would feel if I were sitting in a room. I have learned to anticipate and add a little bit extra" to make people happy.

For years she was content with operating just the southside business. She never wanted a second location.

Scaramucci even admits to having moments when she considered quitting the business altogether. But the possibilities of Oklahoma City's revitalization Metropolitan Area Projects lured strongly, enticing her to embark on another phase of her dream.

Looking from beneath her hard hat at a $3 million, 22,000-square-foot former warehouse in Bricktown that's being transformed into her second retail and restaurant location, Scaramucci reminisced about what's brought her to this juncture.

"If I was just going to create another Painted Door and Nonna's, I don't think I would do it," she said. "But there were so many possibilities here to have a downtown that's alive and well.

"The people of Oklahoma City voted for the MAPS project. They said with their vote they wanted to promote all this growth. I can't think in my lifetime of another project people wanted so bad. They are leaving a legacy, and to be a part of that. I wanted to be in the middle of this strongly.

"How lucky to do something you love to do at 57, 58 years old -- to get to be still involved in something, to be out among the people," she said. "Thirty years ago, I would never have dreamed this."

Remembering start
Scaramucci will continue to operate the business on S Western Avenue.

"This is my birthplace. All the hours of growth and learning took place right here," she said during an interview at the southside restaurant.

Dave Lopez, president of Downtown OKC, is one of her biggest cheerleaders. He says she's embracing her Bricktown project with vigor.

"I'm excited about her bringing her brand of dining and hospitality to downtown," Lopez said. "I really think the upscale amenities she will offer will enrich Bricktown and downtown and will bring a different demographic."

Scaramucci finds trying to repeat success with the same format an exciting prospect.

"You love your second child just as much, just differently, with more experience under your belt," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci admits that she warmed to Bricktown cautiously. She had heard the buzz about Bricktown's redevelopment since the late 1980s and thought the area held business possibilities. But she watched the long process of building the canal and the struggle to bring retail and entertainment to the area. And she watched as restaurants tried, struggled and sometimes failed there.

But, Scaramucci said, by 2000 she couldn't stay away. She started visiting Bricktown at various times on different days, checking traffic patterns and counting heads.

"If anyone had been paying attention, they would have seen me circling in my white car," Scaramucci laughed.

Making a start
In 2002, Scaramucci, her husband Phil and a group of investors bought property in Bricktown with the intention of leasing it. Before long, they decided the building on the corner of Sheridan Avenue and Mickey Mantle Drive would be the perfect spot for their own business.

Phil Scaramucci said everyone in the group was drawn by the energy of the area.

"So much effort and so much money had been put into downtown," he said. "We like cities, and we began to realize there was more going on here than we thought."

The building is in a prime spot, Phil Scaramucci said. It is across the street from the ballpark, a block from the canal, within view of the future Centennial Fountains and the downtown skyline, and one of the few places where all of the downtown trolleys intersect.

With the building's ownership secured, the Scaramuccis set out to begin putting brick and mortar to fulfill dreams already crafted by Avis Scaramucci.

All in the family
Their son, Wade, an architect based in London, said the family began talking about expanding his mother's business over Christmas 2002.

"A lot of it was very small. They didn't know what it would be -- even if it would be another Nonna's," Wade Scaramucci said while on a recent visit to Oklahoma City.

But with the purchase of the then 13,000-square-foot warehouse, Wade Scaramucci had a palate on which to draw a schematic design.

"This was going to be a very basic refurbishment," Wade Scaramucci said.

But once an original staircase and an elevator were removed, the family began to envision possibilities for a layout.

Before long, a basic plan for a retail store, bakery and café had become a three-story, 500-seat restaurant and bar, with separate meeting rooms, three outdoor patios and a private entertainment suite.

Plans grow
"It just grew. We got so excited about adding on. I'm not sure when we finally said, 'Stop!'" Phil Scaramucci said.

On a recent visit home, Wade Scaramucci walked through the building he had envisioned on paper. His parents have made changes to the original design, mainly aesthetically -- moving walls, opening the monumental staircase so that lighting on the second floor is visible and adding windows.

"In the beginning, everyone had a different idea of what this was going to be, but in the end they are the clients and they have to be very happy here," he said.

Avis Scaramucci admits an ulterior motive in asking her son to draw the original design: She hoped he would take time off his job and come home to finish the project.

Instead, Wade Scaramucci made late-night phone calls from Dubai, and later London, then Newport Beach, Calif., where he was working on projects for his employer, London-based WATG Architecture.

And, with his parents, he selected Oklahoma City-based Architectural Design Group to implement his design.

"I have to give ADG credit. Much of what has been done here has been a result of their hard work," Wade Scaramucci said.

Now the Scaramuccis are finessing interior details, deciding on colors and ordering furnishings, equipment and merchandise to fill the space.

Sometimes it's a 24/7 project, Avis Scaramucci said. Her many deviations from the plan has pushed the opening date from late August to mid-November.

New home
In the meantime, Avis Scaramucci spends the time making friends with her Bricktown neighbors, taking part in downtown meetings on everything from the fate of the fiberglass buffaloes that currently dot the downtown scenery, to the reconstruction of the Walnut Street Bridge.

Lopez said with the addition of the new library, the art museum, the renovated Civic Center, the new Harkins Theaters and Bass Pro Shops, downtown is becoming a place your can live, work and play.

"But we need pioneers like the ones who envisioned Bricktown and are now getting the rewards. I applaud Avis and Phil for taking the risk," Lopez said

Avis Scaramucci likes the reference to a pioneer.

"I feel I'm helping to recreate a strong downtown, something Oklahoma City has been missing for many years. I see myself helping to shape that, and I'm thrilled."