July 3, 2008
Local Food on Menu at BOK Center
By BRIAN BARBER
Read the latest stories on the BOK Center, watch a slide show of the construction progress and scroll through a list of upcoming events.
Eating out before going to a concert or a game at the BOK Center won't be necessary.
Tulsa's new arena will offer visitors plenty of tasty options, including pizza, hamburgers, sushi, barbecue and Mexican and Chinese food.
Seven local restaurants and vendors, in addition to the arena's in-house food crew, have been chosen to provide concessions.
They include In the Raw, Billy's On the Square, Oklahoma Style BBQ, Te Kei's, Rubicon Restaurant, Mazzio's Italian Eatery and Borden Dairy of Oklahoma.
All will be open during events only.
Mayor Kathy Taylor said she was intent on including Tulsa-based businesses in the arena instead of the more typical fast-food chains.
"We wanted our food offerings in the arena to be very unique and bring some local flavor," she said.
Providing a wide variety of reasonably priced food options also makes sense because downtown won't be fully developed when the venue opens in September, BOK Center General Manager John Bolton said.
"With thousands of people expected at each event, there's a limit to what the restaurants in the Brady and Blue Dome districts can handle," he said.
The food will be packaged to carry away.
Cocktail tables will be located throughout the concourses for people to stand and eat, or they can take the food to their seats inside the arena's bowl, Bolton said.
The restaurants and vendors aren't paying rent, but they have to turn over a percentage of sales to the venue, he said.
Mazzio's and Borden Dairy of Oklahoma have multiyear contracts, and all of the others have made yearlong commitments.
In the Raw
Arena attendees looking for some sophistication in their food choices will be able to enjoy sushi by In the Raw, which has a 10- year history in Tulsa's Brookside area and more recently on South Sheridan Road.
"When you go to events at places like this, you see a lot of the same stuff: hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos," said In the Raw Vice President of Operations Alycia Highfill. "We're going to be there as an alternative."
Seven items have been chosen to serve at the BOK Center including the teriyaki chicken rice bowl, edemame and a variety of seafood and vegetable rolls. Each is expected to be $7.
Billy's On the Square
A Main Street mainstay for downtown workers since 1984, Billy's is ready for the masses, said its owner and namesake, Billy Bayouth.
"I think the BOK Center is one of the most exciting things to happen in Tulsa's history, and we want to be a part of it," he said.
Bayouth will drop the "On the Square" portion of his restaurant's name for the arena location, but he promises that everything else will remain the same, including his famous Theta burger and colossal onion rings.
A still-fluctuating menu includes hamburgers for $5.75, chicken Caesar wraps for $6, catfish strips for $7 and shrimp baskets for $8, along with many other items.
Oklahoma Style BBQ
Mattie Bledsoe-Hayes knows her barbecue is good, and she wants everyone else to know it, too.
Her restaurant, Oklahoma Style BBQ at 2235 N. Harvard Ave., has been feeding fans since 1993. But a location in the arena is about to introduce her to a whole new set of customers.
"They approached me about doing this and said I came highly recommended," she said with a laugh.
A tentative menu shows she will serve smoked-brisket sandwiches for $6, smoked turkey legs for $6.50, peach cobbler for $2.50 and a variety of other items.
Bringing an Asian flair to the BOK Center will be Te Kei's, which opened in 2002 at 1616 S. Utica Ave.
The restaurant plans to offer some of its favorite menu items, including Mongolian beef for $8, Pearl's lemon chicken and sesame chicken each for $7 and lo mein noodles for $6, among other items.
"I think it's great the arena is using local businesses, and we're proud to be a part of it," Te Kei's general manager, Damon Holdeman, said.
Baked potatoes take on a whole new meaning at Rubicon, where they come smothered in a variety of toppings.
The restaurant has been at 1314 E. Third St. for 13 years, but not everyone has had the chance to experience a Rubicon potato, said Rubicon's owner, Ethan Benjamin.
"We want as many people to taste our food as possible," he said. "I think being in the arena will help us achieve that goal."
Benjamin's BOK Center menu is simple: baked potatoes stuffed with the customer's choice of meat are $7.50 each.
Mazzio's Italian Eatery
The Tulsa company will offer pizza by the slice -- pepperoni, cheese and combination -- for $4 and whole pies for $20.
But it also will offer items from the rest of its menu, including chicken wings for $5.50 and breadsticks for $3.
"It's a big undertaking," said David Poth, Mazzio's vice president of marketing. "This is like opening a new restaurant for us. All eyes are on the arena right now. We want to do it right. We're going to do it right."
Located only a few blocks from the arena on North Denver Avenue, Borden will supply hand-dipped ice cream, novelty ice cream bars, milk and bottled milkshakes.
"Dairy products are kind of like air and electricity," Borden's general manager, Bill Witt, said. "You don't pay much attention to them, but they're part of your day-to-day life. Having my brand in the BOK Center is just logic."
In addition to what is served by the restaurants and vendors, many other items will be prepared by the BOK Center's food staff.
Among the selections will be Mexican food, chicken tender baskets, Philly sandwiches, hot dogs, corn dogs, chili cheese fries, bratwurst, paninis, popcorn and bagged chips.
Desserts will include candy, cotton candy, funnel cakes, snow cones and frozen smoothies.
Pepsi products, bottled water, coffees and an assortment of alcoholic beverages also will be sold.
Prices for the in-house food are still being determined. Those listed for the restaurants could change slightly prior to the venue's opening because of the country's volatile food market.
Brian Barber 581-8322
Originally published by BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer.
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