On a sun-splashed afternoon, large crowds moved through opening day of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s 2014 Festival of the Arts where, as usual, the forecast was a hot topic.
The annual question is when, rather than if, it will rain. So far, the weather looks mild compared to years past. The other forecast on patrons’ minds is about food, and what new delicacies aside from the obligatory Strawberries Newport, Indian Taco and smoked turkey leg await on Food Row. This year, a couple of veteran operators bring a new concept to downtown’s annual art showcase.
Robert Painter and Toni Hoffman helped resuscitate the Iguana Lounge brand of the 1990s with Iguana Mexican Grill downtown and Iguana Cafe in Nichols Hills Plaza. Now they’ve revived Guthrie’s Blue Belle Saloon into the Blue Belle Grill. Instead of bringing Iguana’s Mexican flavors to the Festival of the Arts, Painter and Hoffman decided to bring the comfort foods of Blue Belle downtown.
“We’ve got fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and handmade blueberry pie,” Painter said. “And for our vegetarian friends, we’ve got green-chile artichoke dip.”
Painter said he and Hoffman joined a group of partners last June to take over the Guthrie building and brand that predates statehood.
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The Midtown Renaissance lots just south of Reno between Walker and Harvey are an easy walk to the festival. Paid parking is available in lots and garages throughout downtown, plus there is limited street parking around the perimeter of the event. For a map of available parking lots, go to www.parkingokc.com.