View Full Version : Cheevers owners to open new restaurant in Auto Alley



Pete
09-28-2006, 09:41 AM
This is fantastic news as Cheevers is one of my favorite OKC restaurants. Also, it's great to see locals stepping up in Midtown and AA. With the McNellie's and Irma's going into Plaza Court, this area is going to have several excellent places very soon.


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Friends unite with proposal for restaurant on the ‘Alley’

By Steve Lackmeyer
The Oklahoman

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http://olive.newsok.com/Repository/getimage.dll?path=DOK/2006/09/28/21/Img/Pc0211200.jpg

Automobile Alley may seem to have all the elements of a successful downtown district: an art gallery, housing, stores and offices. But this spring, the key missing piece is set to be filled when an upscale restaurant opens in one of the city’s oldest car dealership buildings.

The Buick Building, built in 1911 at 504 N Broadway, was bought by architect Rand Elliott and his wife, Jeanette, in 1999. They spent $500,000 restoring the facade, but declined several bids to lease the building for restaurants, motorcycle and car sales and even a rave party house.

“We’ve had three calls a week for three years,” Rand Elliott said. “We’ve been very, very selective about who it would be and what the conditions would be.”

Keith and Heather Paul, owners of Cheevers Cafe and Iron Starr, saw the Buick Building for the first time while catering a party there for Elliott in spring 2005. The Pauls, friends of the Elliotts, quickly approached the owners about their own idea of converting the property into an upscale steakhouse and catering operation.

“Right off the bat, our interest was there,” Keith Paul said. “The space is beautiful.”

The Pauls said they were stunned by the building’s architecture, including an 18-foot-high ceiling in the first floor and skylights, and its location at the south end of Automobile Alley.

“There is really nothing like this building in Oklahoma City - certainly not a restaurant,” Heather Paul said. “It brings to mind big city dining, which we really don’t have.”

The two couples describe themselves as a team: Rand Elliott will design the restaurant, Jeanette Elliott, creative director at Ackerman McQueen, will direct marketing, while the eatery will be set up and operated by the Pauls.

They’ve picked a name, “Red Prime Steakhouse.” But the Pauls and Elliotts are withholding further details on the restaurant’s designs and features. They said the restaurant will feature interactive elements for customers and will convert a giant roundtable in the building’s first floor into a private dining room.

Located at the crossroads of the Central Business District, Automobile Alley and the Flatiron District, Elliott thinks a successful restaurant opening is critical to future development along Broadway. The stretch, home to the city’s original automobile dealership row, already boasts lofts, stores, offices and an art gallery.

But the only restaurant is Java Dave’s, a coffeehouse on NW 10 east of Broadway.

Jeanette Elliott said they had to be selective about selecting a tenant, and they worked for years with broker Chuck Ainsworth to prevent the building from being leased to a national chain restaurant or operator who wouldn’t properly use the space.

“The space gives you an opportunity for great theater,” she said. “It’s a very theatrical space. One of the reasons we held off until we got with the Pauls is we didn’t want to chop it up into little pieces to where you didn’t have the impact of the grand space.”

The Elliotts said selection of the Pauls was easy - they eat at the couple’s Cheever’s Cafe at NW 23 and Hudson at least once a week.

Heather Paul said the restaurant will feature selections offered at upscale chains such as Ruth’s Chris and Mortons in other cities, but not locally. She said the menu will also differ from the national chains and will have a local flair and wines not usually requested by local customers.

They see their customer base including tourists and visitors staying at the Skirvin Hilton and other downtown hotels. They are planning to open in spring to coincide with the re-opening of the 95-year-old hotel.

“You have B.C. Clark’s moving its storefront so it faces Broadway, and the Skirvin is the magnet for what’s happening right now,” Keith Paul said. “We’re within walking distance of all that, and downtown needs to be a place to walk around, dine and shop.”

ksearls
09-28-2006, 10:04 AM
I am soo excited about this! I feel like this is just the start of great things restaurant-wise for the AA area! This will be the see and be seen place in Downtown and OKC for that matter. I am confident the Elliots and the Pauls will give us something to be excited about.

Kim

wsucougz
09-28-2006, 10:49 AM
Bricktown has some competition on the horizon.

BDP
09-28-2006, 11:00 AM
They see their customer base including tourists and visitors staying at the Skirvin Hilton and other downtown hotels.

This is exactly what I was thinking. It's perfect. A true upscale restaurant for the Skirvin's clientele and within and easy walking distance.


Bricktown has some competition on the horizon.

Possibly, but I'm not sure these are the same dollars as the City Walk/Chelino's/Redhawks dollars. I think this place along with XO and Soleil will fill a niche that Bricktown has been unable or unwilling to tap. I think Bricktown is evolving into the chain-ish type mid-scale area and downtown and midtown will fill the need for locally owned, upscale, and/or unique places. As far as I can tell, the Bricktown developers don't seem to be interested in these areas.

Karried
09-28-2006, 11:56 AM
“The space gives you an opportunity for great theater,” she said. “It’s a very theatrical space. One of the reasons we held off until we got with the Pauls is we didn’t want to chop it up into little pieces to where you didn’t have the impact of the grand space.”

It might be cool if they had an upscale restaurant and offered some evenings featuring a Murder Mystery Interactive Dining Experience... those are so cool..

metro
09-28-2006, 12:47 PM
I am soo excited about this! I feel like this is just the start of great things restaurant-wise for the AA area! This will be the see and be seen place in Downtown and OKC for that matter. I am confident the Elliots and the Pauls will give us something to be excited about.

Kim

Kim don't forget about the soon to be opening Soleil and XO Lounge in the Colcord, that in addition to whatever restaurant the Skirvin will have. And supposively they are supposed to be putting a bar/restaurant in the basement of 125 Park as well.

Luke
09-28-2006, 08:38 PM
Great development!

Thanks for the info.

Doug Loudenback
11-12-2006, 08:19 AM
Here's a shot of the Buick Building taken at dusk yesterday, home of this new restaurant.

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a49/DougLoudenback/misc/buick.jpg

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a49/DougLoudenback/misc/buick2.jpg

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a49/DougLoudenback/misc/buick3.jpg

Pete
11-17-2006, 08:24 PM
I've heard that the restaurant will be called RED.

With Soleil, the new Skirvin restaurant and now RED, downtown will have 3 great new restaurants in a very short period of time.

BG918
11-18-2006, 10:07 PM
^ Would you consider Tratoria Il Centro and Museum Cafe to be downtown, or Arts District? Count the handful of upscale places in Bricktown like Mickey Mantle's, Nonna's, etc. and there is a good selection of nice restaurants in the downtown area.

Pete
11-19-2006, 09:23 AM
They are all downtown IMO, I just meant 3 NEW restaurants of note in a very short period of time.

I wonder how the more established places have been doing?