For the past couple years Richard Sauve, his wife, Donn Cross, and Joe Rosati have been looking for a place to open their dream restaurant — a 1930s Chicago-style restaurant and cigar bar.
"Most of my restaurant history is in Dallas, and I've always wanted one that would have the Chicago feel of a bar,” Sauve said. "I had an opportunity to do one in Dallas, and that fell through. But then we got the opportunity to do one here, and it's evolved from there.” Their dream restaurant — the Prohibition Room — is set to open in May in the Gold Dome at NW 23 and Classen Boulevard. But finding a home for the restaurant hasn't come easily. The men looked at Bricktown, Automobile Alley and the Film Row. Sauve said he really liked the look and feel of Film Row, where the architecture dates back to the 1920s and 1930s. But proposed renovations of most of the buildings in the area have yet to begin. "I gave up everything I had to do this and I didn't want to wait another two years,” Sauve said. The pair's first chosen spot was the Tower Theater on NW 23. It was then, a year ago, that chef Michael Schely, whose resume includes stints at the Skirvin Hilton and Cafe Nova, joined the team. But they had to move on when renovation plans for the Tower Theater were delayed by the pursuit of tax credits and financing. The restaurateurs then negotiated a deal with Richard Tanenbaum for space at The Classen at NW 23 and Classen Boulevard. That deal fell through, Sauve said, when Tanenbaum decided to lease the space to City Bites instead. It was then the men moved next door to the Gold Dome. Dr. Irene Lam, who saved the landmark from demolition, had one big space left on the first floor that she wanted to lease to a restaurant. She advertised for an operator who might cater food into the space. The men then convinced Lam that they could launch a successful restaurant and cigar bar at the Gold Dome, using some of the lobby and outdoor patio for extra seating if necessary.