The Plaza District recently welcomed a kitschy little restaurant and bar called The Mule, which offers cold beer and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in an ultra cool, ultra casual environment.
Owners Cody Rowan, John Harris, and Joey Morris started confabbing about restaurant partnership as students at Oklahoma State University and employees of Eskimo Joe's.
Names like Hunger Town emerged. Ideas for the menu ran the gamut. The idea that stuck centered around grilled cheese sandwiches and beer — staples of the college diet.
While the grilled cheese sandwich is embraced by most of us as soon as we grow a pair of incisors, beer is embraced as we come of age. They are an unlikely pair of first loves that never leave our hearts.
All three went into the restaurant industry. Cody went off to Denver while John and Joey stuck around Oklahoma City and learned their trade at The Wedge Pizzeria in Deep Deuce.
All along, the dream stayed alive and more than a year ago, the trio put the wheels in motion to what they hoped would be an April 2012 launch. Then it moved to July before finally celebrating its birthday in late September.
Tucked on the bottom floor of a refurbished apartment complex on the corner of NW 16 Street and Blackwelder, The Mule is an urban environment that celebrates Oklahoma's rural roots and pioneer ingenuity.
“We wanted a clean, rustic-industrial atmosphere,” Rowan said.
Walls on one end are built with wood from a barn and another is covered in pallet planks.
“We went Dumpster-diving for those,” Rowan said.
The space is clean, simple and inviting. The floor has room for more tables, but the partners smartly resisted the temptation to clutter the space.
The name, Morris explains, comes from a saying heard by a grandparent.
“Don't worry about the mule, just fill the cart,” Morris said.
The menu is a mix of familiar pub foods but not those terribly common in this market. On the appetizer roster, you won't find nachos, chicken wings or mozzarella sticks. You will find Okie poutine, fried cheese curds, and stuffed and baked jalapenos and mushrooms. You can also get a dipping portion of house-tomato soup with a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches.
The salads include a Caesar and house salad but also a beet salad and the Orchard, which includes apple and pear slices with almond slivers and balsamic vinaigrette.
If you go
Where: 1630 N Blackwelder.
When: 11 a.m. to “late” Tuesday through Sunday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.