Paul Coury is returning as operator of the Colcord Hotel and is teaming up with Kurt Fleischfresser, chef and owner of The Coach House, who will oversee restaurant operations.
Coury is no stranger to the Colcord – he bought the century-old office building and redeveloped it into a boutique hotel in 2006. He also owns the Ambassador Hotel in Midtown and other hotels in Tulsa, Wichita and Kansas City, Mo.
Coury sold the hotel to Devon Energy as the company began construction on its new corporate headquarters to the west of the Colcord, but both sides left open the possibility of Coury resuming operations at a later time.
“God was shining on me,” Coury said. “Devon brought in a consultant to look at the property to look at what to do to take it to the next level. And they looked at several companies, including us. And they decided their best choice was in their back yard. I knew the property. I was already in the market. And we lined up in terms of quality and service.”
Fleischfresser, meanwhile, enjoys a four-diamond status as owner of The Coach House and also owns Sushi Neko, Irma’s Burger Shack and Will Rogers Theater.
Klay Kimker, vice president of administration of Devon Energy, said Fleischfresser and Coury were approached about taking over operations following an in-depth look at the hotel and restaurants by Los Angeles based Bill Howell Advisories.
Kimker said the hotel is running smoothly. Alan Marcum, executive vice president at Devon, said the branding of the Colcord and its restaurant Flint will likely remain the same, though changes may occur later at Vast, the upscale restaurant on the 49th and 50th floors of Devon Energy Center.
“We want Vast to be the top restaurant in Oklahoma City,” Kimker said. “We want it in the top 10 in the entire region. That says it all. That’s why our consultant put together this team.”
The hotel and restaurants were previously led by John Williams, former general manager of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Williams was hired in 2011 to oversee renovations and expansion of the hotel after Devon Energy acquired it from Coury. Williams also oversaw the 2012 openings and operations of Flint and Vast.
Williams was unavailable for comment on Monday. Andrew Black, who worked as corporate chef over the two restaurants, also is departing the operation.
“Kurt is a very good chef and well known locally,” Black said. “I am excited to be pursuing a new venture I am set to launch next year.”
Fleischfresser said he and Coury have been acquainted with each other for about a dozen years.
“The consultant tied it all together,” Fleischfresser said. “I’m still in ownership of my restaurants. We have good systems and chefs in place, and it was good timing for me to take on a new project.”
Fleischfresser said “menus will evolve” and that he will be working with Vast chef Patrick Williams on upcoming changes.
“I’ll be working with Patrick and we’ll come up with our own kind of style and signature dishes,” Fleischfresser said. “It will be a slow evolution. We will ramp up the style and quality.”
Marcum praised Fleischfresser’s 34 years of experience in creating “nice, comfortable quality restaurants.”
“One of the things Kurt brings to Vast is his top chef rating not just in Oklahoma City but in the southwest,” Marcum said. “And that will add to the environment and atmosphere at Vast. He runs four-diamond restaurants.”
Kimker said the changes coincide with continued development of downtown. OGE Energy Corp. is set to build a new headquarters across the street from the restaurants and the hotel, while the Oklahoma Publishing Co. is set to move its operations this winter to Century Center just east of the Colcord.
“There is a raising in the level of sophistication in Oklahoma City,” Kimker said. “Every little bit of development we have, every new company we bring in just raises the quality of life in Oklahoma City that much more. We’re all excited about making Oklahoma City one of the great cities of the world.”