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  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default New Italian Buffet at First National

    Well, it's no announcement of a large firm coming to First National, but there will be a new restaurant coming to First National soon. I support any new growth we can get in the mini mall on the main floor of First National.

    "Italian buffet comes to First National Center
    by Heidi R. Centrella
    The Journal Record

    Downtown Oklahoma City diners soon will have a new lunch option - Italian.
    Owner Hassan Daneshmand will bring the fourth eatery to First National Center, 120 N. Robinson Ave., after spending more than 23 years in the restaurant business.

    Italian Express will serve buffet-style pastas, pizzas, lasagnas, salads and daily Italian specials, such as chicken or beef cannelloni and manicotti. The buffet will allow diners to mix and match from a variety of pasta, red sauce, meat sauce, Alfredia sauce, chicken, sausage, meatballs and the like. "You can build your pasta dish the way you like it," said Daneshmand, who also will offer take-out and catering to area offices. But what the entrepreneur is most proud of is the quality of his food, to include the level of freshness. Everything is made fresh daily, he said.

    "A lot of restaurant companies say that, but they don't do it," he said, adding that his restaurant will not have a freezer. There's no need since food will be delivered daily, he said.

    "Everything is delivered fresh every day. For example, my chicken that will be on the buffet line tomorrow morning will be killed today and delivered tomorrow. That's how fresh my chicken will be."

    This is Daneshmand's first venture in opening a restaurant, but the Louisville-native has spent many years operating restaurants, many of which are in Oklahoma. For the last 12 months he served as area manager for Pepperoni Grill, prior to that he was the regional manager for Zio's Italian Kitchen and he spent five years as the general manager at Olive Garden on Memorial Road. He also, in 1984, opened the first Garfield's in Edmond.

    But Daneshmand said it is time to branch out on his own.

    "I've always done it for everybody else," he said. "It's time to do it for myself."

    And since there's not an Italian restaurant in the downtown area, aside from a couple of small pizza places and what's available in Bricktown, he thought this would be the best location and one well received.

    "People love Italian," he said. "Coming from my experience at Zio's and the Olive Garden, I know there's a need for it and there's a market for it downtown."

    Daneshmand has hired four employees to work the 1,200-square-foot space that will seat 65 and be open from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    He plans to open the week of Oct. 11.

    However, Daneshmand has no plans to advertise, aside from a couple of easels he will place outside the building upon opening. Rather he prefers to build his business via word of mouth. Aside from quality of food, Daneshmand said his level of service, too, will be exemplary. "I want to be able to take care of every customer, every guest who walks through my door," he said. "I will be on the floor from the minute we open until the minute we close, and I will visit with every customer who walks in."

    Daneshmand said he's heard many positive comments from passersby in the building, and he hopes his restaurant will, too, increase traffic at First National.

    "Word will travel. And that's a great thing for the building because it will bring more people into the building," he said. "It's about my food. My food is outstanding. And if you come in and try it once, you'll be back for more."

  2. #2

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    That's great! I'll have to find a cheap meter and take the trolley over there sometime.

  3. Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    I think this is great, the more eateries we can get in the CBD the better. It helps to diversify the downtown district, ensuring that growth is distributed everywhere - not just to the entertainment district.
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  4. Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    I, for one, know that when I visit OKC, I will patronize everything in the CBD; including hotels, restaurants, theatres, etc - over those outside the CBD.
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  5. Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    I wonder if the restaurant is going into the same space in the middle of the arcade where a Chinese restaurant was, and before that, a German restaurant. It seems to have a 1-2 year turnover. Hopefully this will change that. It'll be nice for the downtown workers to have a real, fresh Italian eatery in the CBD, though!!!
    Continue the Renaissance

  6. #6
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Seems like more people like Italian food than Chinese or German. So I only hope it does better. Also, since this will be the only Italian eatery in the CBD, it should have an edge for lunchtime downtown business workers.

  7. Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    I just wish it were open later. Why does everything in the CBD close so early? Why not cator to residents down there and/or hotel guests?

    To create an urban atmosphere in the most urban area of OK, restaurants/businesses/retail/shoppes should remain OPEN. Expand the 10:30-2:30 to at least 10:30am-3:00pm Lunch M-F, 4:00pm-8:00pm Dinner M-Sat
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  8. #8
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Problem is no one lives in the CBD and there aren't any events going on there to attract anyone, so it pretty much dies at night. Businesses in CBD would go broke if they stayed open for dinner. If we want these businesses to stay open later we're going to have to offer more events in the CBD at night.

  9. Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    I thought there was much going on downtown now. I remember when the CBD closed its doors at 5pm, but I thought those days were gone. I thought downtown was more 24 hours now, even the CBD - with the new hotels and the conventions/sporting/concerts events that have come about.

    Doesnt the OCMA stay open till 9? Doesnt the Norick Library stay open? Downtown businesses (offices) are still open late (as the world economy now operates 24/7) so why dont merchants cator to the 24 hour crowd. Besides that, arent there people living in the CBD now? Syc Squ and Regency are in the CBD (well Syc is in Arts Dist, but hey only a few blocks from the CBD).

    I just think if we want pedestrian traffic in the CBD, we need to encourage businesses to stay open longer than just the lunch rush. How about a dinner rush? For visitors, downtown residents, hotel goers, library/art museum patrons, so on. I think Brick is great but downtown has much more to offer than the entertainment district. I am for downtown as a whole, and esp the CBD - downtown; not just the Bricktown "investors".
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  10. #10
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Yeah, after hours it still just doesn't seem like there's many people on the street in the CBD. Seems like most people congregate either around the Bricktown area, Cox Center/Ford Center, hotels, or Arts District. There's still not traffic in the CBD after hours. MAybe the re-opening of the Skirvin Hotel will help change that.

  11. #11

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Does anyone know if this place is still open? I'd like to eat there.

  12. #12

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Yeah, they're near the east end of 1st National. I think across from the Feed the Children store. I've never eaten there, but they catered an event up at the Law School once, it was pretty darned good.

  13. #13

    Default Re: New Italian Buffet at First National

    Yeah, I found it. I ate there for lunch. I'll post a review in the Food Court.

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