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The Drake changes course, embraces standard service format

The Drake Seafood and Oysterette, 519 NW 23, is reeling it in but not pulling up anchor.

Keith Paul, president of A Good Egg Dining, sat down with me last Friday to explain why last year’s splashy addition to the group would overhaul service.

This morning, he sent this email to customers and investors:

Dear Loyal Good Egg Guests,

Over the past 16 years, we have enjoyed opening, not just restaurants in our community, but neighborhood restaurants where friends see each other on a weekly basis. A Good Egg Dining was born from the passion to bring unique tastes and memorable dining experiences to the city we love and call home.

We also take pride and joy in delivering true hospitality — Extreme Hospitality — so that you can feel our love of food and comfort in our restaurants. This is what the term “being a Good Egg” means to us.

In the beginning stages of concepting The Drake Seafood & Oysterette, Heather and I wanted to bring Oklahoma City a level of seafood that we felt the market was presently missing. A menu written specifically to support a Seafood Program built on sustainable choices. Our chefs went to work developing relationships with fisheries and fishmongers near and far.

A lot of thought was given to the interiors and style of service as well. A style of service with a twist that we thought would bring a level of excitement and adventure to the experience: sharing. Dishes would arrive at the table as soon as they were ready in the kitchen, at peak freshness. Plates would be placed in the center of the table, for an interactive dining experience with loads of variety. A tasting menu written by whomever is the captain of ordering with guidance from the staff.

Our guests and teammates are our biggest champions and harshest critics. This is appreciated beyond measure and has shaped the company we are today.

Well, after a year of listening to you, we've discovered that sharing is not what you want. Heather and I hear you! Beginning Monday, November 14th Drake will be switching to a menu featuring traditional coursed service.

We have learned from this experience. Our vision with The Drake has just become too complicated. We cherish our community and with this change, believe The Drake can become the neighborhood spot we've always dreamed of. Drake will continue its mission of sourcing the freshest and most sustainable seafood from around the country AND get back to Good Egg roots by focusing on the what got us here, what we enjoy and do best ... creating great neighborhood restaurants with great food and Extreme Hospitality.

Thank you,

Keith & Heather Paul

When The Drake opens this afternoon, it will introduce the new menu and serve customers their food in the same format others do.

“You’ll still be able to get shared plates,” Paul said Friday. “But we’ve added some regular entrees and made some other tweaks.”

Changes include shrinking the salads from entrees to standard first-course sizes. Food will now be delivered in the standard format rather than at the kitchen's whim. Paul said they've also made some additions.

“We're adding a fried shrimp to the appetizer menu,” Paul said. "We have a lot of raw and fresh options, we wanted to balance that. It's also something we've gotten a lot of requests for. We're also adding the most popular entree in the country, the filet."

The changes were made to help shrink average tickets prices and streamline operations.

"We've listened to our customers," Paul said. "We believe this is going to help us serve them better and improve their experience."

A Good Egg Dining has populated Oklahoma City with a string of successful restaurants beginning with Cheever’s Cafe back in 2000. They also have opened Iron Star Urban BBQ, Red Primesteak, Republic Gastropub, Tucker’s Onion Burgers, Kitchen No. 324 and, most recently, Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes.

This week, A Good Egg Dining will introduce a second Republic Gastropub to the market in the Chisholm Creek development. On, or around, Dec. 1, A Good Egg Dining will open its fourth Tucker’s location. The new spot marks a return to Norman for the company. The Iron Star concept had an unsuccessful run in Campus Corner back in 2011. The new Tucker's opens in the University Town Center at 24th Ave. NW and W Robinson Avenue, joining Torchy’s Tacos, Redrock Canyon Grill, Cheddar’s, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pei Wei, Qdoba and Zio’s Kitchen for food offerings in the development.

Paul said The Drake would continue to serve dinner daily starting at 4:30 p.m. and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant will continue to offer oysters from around the world and a full bar. Paul said the changes could pave the way for reinstating the daily lunch service that was suspended a couple of months after The Drake opened.

“It’s possible we could develop an abbreviated lunch menu at some point,” Paul said.

There's something to look forward to next year, meanwhile I'll have plenty more news from the local dining scene in Wednesday's edition of The Oklahoman.

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Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›