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Historic Kamp's Grocery Sign Set to be Removed, Sold

The last reminder of what was once the city’s oldest grocery is set to disappear with owner James Vu seeking to sell off the Kamp's sign from the historic landmark at 1310 NW 25.

The grocery was owned and operated by the Kamp family through 1996. Founder Henry Kamp arrived in Oklahoma City on April 22, 1910, and witnessed the annual 89er Day Parade. Later, he joked about not wanting to leave any town that could throw a grand party for his arrival.

Using a small inheritance from his mother, the German immigrant bought the Epworth View Exchange, a former hardware store. Brother Bill arrived the next summer to help run the store.

The neighborhood was struggling by the mid-1990s and the grocery was not doing as well as it had in the past. The brothers who ran the grocery were getting older and dying.

A reprieve, one that might have worked if it had survived a few more years, came with a sale of the property to Film Row developer Chip Fudge and his wife Shannon. He did a deal to open a popular café and coffee shop in the grocery and invested in updating the operation.

After three years, the pair struck an agreement to sell the store to then Cheever's Cafe owner Charlene Humphrey. The Humphrey deal soured this year, prompting the Fudges to put the store on the market.

Cong-Tang and her husband Don Van Vu bought the market in 2001, promising to keep it open. But they closed it within a few years and their son, James Vu, began converting it into La Brasa, a nightclub, music venue and restaurant.

James Vu posted on Facebook over the weekend he intends to sell the sign for $10,000, removing a key feature from a building declared a state historic site in 1976.

“As much as I love this sign and what it has done for me, the end is approaching,” Vu wrote. “I have reached out to the Kamp's family but I am currently selling this antique vintage Kamp's sign.”

When asked about the sign Monday morning, Vu said he is set to meet with Bill Kamp about the sign.

“I feel that even though it’s historic, it hurts business,” Vu said.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›