Arriving for the first time at the new Sage Gourmet Market and Cafe in Deep Deuce, Micheal Sparks admits that he’s dumbfounded. The New York City designer started working with Charifa and Kevin Smith about a year ago to convert the first floor of their building into downtown’s first organic market and cafe. Stepping inside this week, Sparks saw a busy cafe, residents mixing at the bar and a couple browsing the new market — all this in a business that only opened last week. "It’s amazing,” Sparks said. "We have clients here who were open to learning about a new business. That in itself is an achievement. A lot of people think they can just open a business themselves and do it right.” The design of the combined market and cafe blends old and new. Modern lighting fixtures, an exposed ceiling and contemporary furnishings are set against an antique bar and old grocery display cases that Charifa Smith said date to the 1930s. "We thought they would stay along our theme and old Oklahoma, old times, and bring life to that,” Charifa Smith said. A full wall mural depicting Deep Deuce in the 1930s, when it was an all-black business district, dominates the south side of the cafe. "We think it’s a great depiction of what old Oklahoma was. We love it and we’ve gotten a lot of great comments about it,” she said. "They want to know where we are located on it and it’s become a conversation piece.”
‘Good memories’Kevin Smith said the menu and market reflects the couple’s interest in healthy and organic foods. "They bring back good memories,” Kevin Smith said. "I had a gentleman who came in last week and said the fried green tomatoes were just like those his grandmother used to make. And that’s what we want — something that will make people feel like they’re at home.” The market, meanwhile, is a work in progress. The shelves already are stocked with milk, eggs, Dr. Brown’s soda, ready-to-go meals from the kitchen, dressings, spices and mixes. "We’re waiting for more items to come in from across the country and around the world,” Kevin Smith said. "And we’ve reserved some space to grow and figure out what residents want.” The couple say they’re happy to be working and living in Deep Deuce, a neighborhood that has recently seen an influx of new housing along with new businesses such as Sage and The Wedge pizzeria joining the Deep Deuce Grill. "I like the people in the neighborhood,” Kevin Smith said. "And at the end of the night it’s a quick ride home.”
Editor's Note:Correct address for the Sage Gourmet Market and Cafe should be 228 NE 2 in Deep Deuce.
Also ...A venture of the heart The Smiths bought the 84-year-old, two-story brick building at 229 NE 2 after relocating from New York City, where Charifa Smith, an Oklahoma City native, had worked about 12 years as an attorney, financial analyst and developer. The market is named for the Smiths’ daughter, who died of a heart defect two days after birth. The couple say they want to promote the importance of having a healthy heart.