Tulsa Downtown: July 2011 Archives

Jennie Lloyd makes her debut this week as the new city reporter for Urban Tulsa Weekly with two interesting stories about downtown Tulsa, past, present, and future.

The first is about the mysterious goings-on involving the massive portfolio of downtown buildings owned by Maurice Kanbar, for example:

In December 2010, Clay Clark, the marketing director for Fears & Clark Realty Group (at the time, responsible for leasing and public relations for Kanbar Properties), announced that a "wedding mall" inside the Executive Center at Fifth and Cheyenne would open soon. Clark said six vendors had signed on and two others were in negotiations.

As part of Kanbar's plan for redeveloping downtown, the new permanent bridal fair would be a place where Tulsa florists, DJs, limo services and photographers can converge to offer one-stop wedding shopping.

When the mall debuted in January, Clark showed KOTV News on 6 around what appeared to be fresh renovations, paint and signage on the third floor of the Executive Center.

Now, only six months after its grand opening in the Executive Center, the collective of wedding vendors has moved to a new location. Al Hornung at Omni Lighting cited "problems with the landlord" as the reason the mall had to find a new home. Clay Clark, media director for Fears & Clark Realty Group, said the location was awkward and parking was difficult.

Epic Photography, Cherished Traditions and DJ Connection now office at 1609 S. Boston Ave., while Omni Lighting, Icing on the Top and Galaxy Limousines remain involved but without permanent offices, Clark said.

Lloyd's story makes reference to a BatesLine story about Maurice Kanbar and Kanbar Properties, particularly about forcing Barthelmes Conservatory to vacate its location in Kanbar's Avanti Building.

In a story on downtown Tulsa's social clubs, Lloyd dives into the history files to depict the glamour that once was the Tulsa Club and the soon-to-be-defunct Petroleum Club and the ongoing success of the Summit Club and the Tulsa Press Club.

The 11-story Tulsa Club Building offered six floors to its members (the first five were home to the Chamber of Commerce) of leisurely and luxe offerings, including an athletic department, separate men's and ladies' lounges, a barber shop, rooftop "sky terrace," and private dining rooms....

The athletic department was one of the first and most complete gymnasiums in Tulsa. Only for men, the gym offered "handball and squash racquet courts, golf practice court, Turkish bath, steam room, dry hot room, electric cabinets, Swedish body massage, diathermy, whirlpool bath, ultra-violet treatment, infra-red treatment, physical therapy, informal dining room and slumber room."

Holland Hall's Dutchman Weekend prom was held at the Tulsa Club in 1979, when it was still an elegant facility. The next time I saw it was shortly after the club closed when they were selling the remaining fixtures, after the place was nearly stripped bare but before the vandals arrived.

Finally, what may be outgoing reporter Mike Easterling's final story for UTW on the beginning of the beginning of the first piece of the Pearl District / Elm Creek basin stormwater mitigation plan. The city has applied for funding for one of two retention ponds planned for the area.

Happy trails to Mike. Good luck and congratulations on a great start to Jennie.

A word of praise for Joe Momma's Pizza:

The actors in Encore! Theatre Company's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a two-hour break between the end of the Saturday matinee and call for the evening performance. Proximity, pizza, and video games made Joe Momma's the obvious place to get a bite to eat and hang out until the kids were allowed back into the PAC. My wife called ahead to give them warning, and they set aside the back room for our group of 40 or so.

One waitress, a thoroughly tattooed young woman, took all the orders and kept them all straight. There was an above-and-beyond moment, too. My in-laws avoid wheat gluten as much as they can, so they ordered a 10" pizza with a gluten-free crust. A few minutes after the order the waitress came back to tell them that the alfredo sauce had gluten as well, and asked if they'd like to order a pizza with red sauce instead.

So not only did Joe Momma's offer gluten-free pizza, the staff was alert enough to catch an inconsistency between crust and topping and brought the issue to the customer to resolve it to the customer's satisfaction, rather than bring out a pizza that wouldn't have met the customer's requirements. Well done to the waitress and kitchen staff.

And now a complaint for the Tulsa Parking Authority and their operator for the Williams Center South garage, Central Parking System:

When we came to see the final performance of Charlie, I opted to park in the underground garage right next to the PAC, rather than leave the car out in the hot sun. Saturday and Sunday parking costs only $4, not the usual $8, or so said the ticket.

When I reached the pay machine at the exit, the machine, which seemed to be shiny and new, failed in three separate ways:

"Please pay with a credit card or cash."

[ iInsert credit card.]

"Credit cards are not accepted. Please pay with a credit card or cash."

[Grumbling, I Insert $20 bill. Machine returns $11 in dollar coins. Receipt shows $8 charge for parking, despite ticket and signs to the contrary.]

So the machine wouldn't take a credit card, despite saying it would, the machine charged me the weekday rate, twice the rate I should have been charged, and the machine short-changed me. I'm out five bucks.

An attendant was in the booth, but she couldn't help me. She could see what was wrong, but she didn't have the authority or the means to correct the problem. She told me her name and wrote the Central Parking System number on the back of my receipt. So I get to decide whether to waste at least $5 of my time to get my $5 back. (Since the machine wouldn't take a credit card, they won't be able to credit my account, so I'll wind up with a check that will be sent through the mail and that I'll need to deposit.)

This is not the sort of parking experience we should be providing for downtown visitors.

If you've ever been curious about that hole-in-the-wall bar on 4th Street between Boulder and Cheyenne Avenues in downtown Tulsa, there's a fascinating story in the latest issue of This Land about Orpha's Lounge. Natasha Ball (of Tasha Does Tulsa fame) paints a vivid verbal picture of the bar's founder, Orpha Satterfield, her namesake Lounge, the single-room occupancy hotel (the last in Tulsa?) on the two floors above, and the staff that keep the place running.

(I was especially pleased to see that Natasha included historical details culled from old street directories and phone books. Those books are a great source of contemporaneous documentation of the way Tulsa once was.)

Well done and congratulations to Natasha, who's now the associate editor of This Land.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Downtown category from July 2011.

Tulsa Downtown: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Downtown: August 2011 is the next archive.

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