Two of the most anticipated new downtown restaurants soon will open at Devon Energy Center with the first, Nebu, overlooking the Myriad Gardens, set to open its doors next month.
Work also is under way on Vast, an elaborate restaurant, bar and banquet operation that will open in September on the 49th and 50th floor of the state's tallest skyscraper. Together, the restaurants will boast some unrivaled views of the changing downtown landscape and feature everything from seafood flown in daily from the Atlantic Ocean, brick oven pizzas and the most elaborate salad bar to be found in the Central Business District.
Both restaurants will be open to the public as part of a desire by Devon Executive Chairman, Larry Nichols, to maintain ties to the community and make the headquarters welcoming to visitors.
“The idea developed over time,” Nichols said. “We thought on and off as to whether we wanted a restaurant or office space up on the top floors. We originally thought about doing a private club. But we realized there was such interest in the community to see the view from up there, we thought it appropriate to have a restaurant and bar where all people could enjoy and take advantage of it.”
Nebu: a garden view
A tour of the headquarters, 333 W Sheridan Ave., on Friday revealed a kitchen is virtually ready for cooking and serving stations are in place at Nebu, which is scheduled to open March 19. The restaurant, on the first floor of the Garden Wing, boasts a sweeping view of the new Devon Energy Center courtyard and the revamped Myriad Gardens across the street.
Nebu will be run by Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Guckenheimer, a dining operator that specializes in exclusively providing food services to corporations.
The company was started in 1965 in Berkeley, Calif. by Stewart Ritchie, a Stanford Medical School student who was upset with bland lunch choices offered at the school. His simple healthy sandwich stand grew into a corporate dining operation with more than 335 clients in 26 states, including Williams in Tulsa.
Nebu's general manager Damien Franczek and executive chef Phil Levinson said Friday the restaurant's opening is timed to coincided with the first set of Devon employees making their move into the adjoining 50-story tower. Their daily menus will include downtown's largest salad bar, a Panini bar, sushi, fresh made soups, a grill and deli. The company will also operate an illy's café, which will offer a variety of gourmet coffees and pastries.
To ensure that Devon's employees continue to patronize other downtown restaurants, seating is limited to 450 — about a quarter of the workforce. Seating for a few dozen more people will be provided in the courtyard. Nebu will be open for breakfast weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and for lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A “Vast” view from the top
John D. Williams and Andrew Black, formerly general manager and executive chef at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, will be opening Vast with a workforce of about 220 people. The restaurant, which also will be available to the public, will open for lunch Mondays through Fridays and for dinner Mondays through Saturdays.
With seating for 135 guests in the main dining room, 40 seats in the bar and seating for 260 in various sized private dining rooms, the restaurant's tables are set up on multiple levels to ensure each patron has an unimpeded view of the downtown skyline from atop the state's tallest skyscraper.
What's In A Name?
Nebu, the dining operation in the first floor of the Garden Wing at Devon Energy Center, is named after the Northeast Blanco Unit, Devon's first large drilling project and the first major play where natural gas was economically produced from coal formations.
“It's important for us to bring some of our company's heritage to the new location, to never forget about our business and why we are all here,” said Alan Marcum, executive vice president of administration at Devon “The restaurant name is unique and gives us the opportunity to share with employees and the public a little bit of our history.”
Tim Langenberg, creative director at Devon, said both Nebu and Vast were names chosen through a lengthy research process.
While Nebu is a nod at the company's history, Langenberg said Vast was chosen to reflect the tower restaurant's expanded menu, view of the skyline, the spirit of Oklahoma, open mindedness, endless possibilities, exposure to new and great things, a sense of perspective and a timelessness of a word that matches the surrounding area.
“Look out over the Plains,” Langenberg said. “Take in the open expanse. It feels like possibility. The spirit of this destination is expressed through an extensive range of seasonal American cuisine — a panorama that encompasses a uniquely Western sense of discovery.”
STEVE LACKMEYER, BUSINESS WRITER