Downtown Oklahoma City bar scene could be hopping when The Flea opens
A building that was once the site of downtown Oklahoma City's oldest bar is set to be revived as a new watering hole called The Flea.
Like a flea market booth, the walls or the bar at NW 4 and Shartel will be covered in kitschy knickknacks. Renovation work already is underway at the old bar building and a new kitchen is being installed.
A newly installed bar top is made from reclaimed wood, including some from the lanes of an old bowling alley.
Standing in the wreckage of construction, Jason Walker, who will manage The Flea, recalled that the old bar, two blocks from the Oklahoma County jail, was known as a dive.
"This is the bar where when you got out of jail, if you brought in your release papers, they gave you a free beer and a cigarette," Walker said.
The Flea will feature live music five nights a week, including an open mic night, as well as at least one Karaoke night. Walker also plans to eventually offer food service.
The property was once home to the So Fine Club, previously known as the Neighborhood Lounge. The So Fine Club shut down in December after businessman David Box purchased the 85-year-old bar building at 733 NW 4 for $800,000.
Dive bar aura
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- Video: The Flea coming mid July (2016-06-22)
The Flea will seek to recreate that dive bar aura, but with a better drink selection, including craft cocktails. Walker hopes to have The Flea open by the end of July. "It's basically going to be a flea market theme dive bar," Walker said. "It's going to be like a four-star dive bar."
The concept will duplicate the original Flea bar in Springfield, Mo., which has proved popular with locals since it opened there in 2012.
Like the Oklahoma City location, the Springfield Flea also is in a building that once housed an old dive bar.
"We came in and we cleaned it up, but we kept the spirit alive," said Grady Wisdom, who is partners in The Flea with Brad Hitchings.
Hitchings also is an investor in Skinny Slims, which has locations in Bricktown and Edmond.
Wisdom and Hitchings thought the vacant dive bar building in a rapidly gentrifying section of downtown Oklahoma City presented the perfect opportunity for expansion of The Flea.
"We love the location, we loved the building. It has a lot of fun history," Wisdom said. "We wanted to try and find an old place with some character."