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Downtown Oklahoma City retail takes root on weekends

Kitchen No. 324 in Oklahoma City's Central Business District defies retail “rule” with crowds of weekend customers.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: January 8, 2013

Retail is not going to work in Oklahoma City's Central Business District on weekends.

That's what has been repeated time and again by store and restaurant owners over the years. Hotel restaurants don't count in this scenario, nor does anything located in Bricktown and Midtown, which are seen as separate urban destinations.

Kitchen No. 324, which recently opened in the Braniff Building at 324 N Robinson Avenue, is not exempted from this rule. The building is surrounded by torn-up sidewalks; there is no dedicated surface or structure parking; and the curbside parking is limited to a few spaces amid the chaos.

The street itself is surrounded by offices, not visitor-friendly venues such as the Myriad Gardens, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art or other draws that might create weekend business for the brave restaurateur or shop owner who would dare to challenge the “rules.”

Keith and Heather Paul, owners of Red Prime Steakhouse (it's on Automobile Alley, also exempted), know the rules all too well. Yet they blatantly defied conventional wisdom — and they are hustling to keep up with large crowds filling their new Central Business District restaurant every weekend.

When I visited with Keith Paul after the first weekend of operation for Kitchen No. 324, he admitted he was as surprised as anybody else by the huge Saturday and Sunday turnout. The crowds were patient as Paul's crew struggled to keep up with their surprising good fortune.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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