For more than 20 years, VZD's Restaurant and Club, 4200 N Western, has built its reputation on live music, but all along, food has been the foundation that keeps the former drugstore cruising through the decades.
The antique apothecary cases and bygone bottles once filled with ointments, medicinals and oils for whatever might've ailed you are an homage to the Veazey Drug Co. that occupied the same space for many moons.
Above it all, you'll find concert posters from the many acts that graced the stage just inside a window facing Western Avenue.
If you're unfamiliar with VZD's, you're either new in town or don't have a taste for good live music.
In the year of this country's bicentennial, the decades of filling prescriptions, shilling analgesics and anti-inflammatories and jerking soda to a couple generations of Crown Heights residents ended.
The new club survived the disco years, living off the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” crowd flocking to the Will Rogers Theatre. In the early '80s, VZD's played host to up-and-coming bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a young Alejandro Escovedo, and classic performers such as Bo Diddley and Joe Ely. Years later, it became a regular stop for the original lineup of the Dixie Chicks.
When “M*A*S*H” went off the air in 1983, VZD's offered a free martini and kimchee to those who paid a $1 cover to watch the finale on a big-screen television.
The club continues to be one of Oklahoma City's most important small concert venues. When you need a dose of Dr. Pants or long to hear Mike Hosty belt out “Hidey Hole” on Thanksgiving, VZD's is the place.
But VZD's is a restaurant first and a club second.
A new take on food
Since Chad Bleakley took ownership more than 20 years ago, he's fought hard to maintain that personality. They've been doing seasonal feasts on St. Patrick's Day and Fat Tuesday for years. Kitchen manager Debbi Johnson started with a menu that fit on three-sided table tents that sat in the center of each table. Now her comfort food specialties such as meatloaf, daily specials including spaghetti, catfish and enchiladas and array of burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and Sunday brunch have become standard fare for the local neighborhoods.
A few years ago, 42nd Street Candy Co. moved a couple of doors north, leaving the small space next door to VZD's vacant. Bleakley took over the space and retrofitted it into a lunch counter. Next, he added chef Richard Hull to the kitchen staff and set him loose on putting together a takeout menu.