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Pandemic stifles progress in the 405 diningscape but doesn't kill it

Restaurants continue to reopen dining rooms at a steady pace, though still with limited capacity and maximum headaches.

Nothing is easy in the middle of a pandemic, including covering the 405 diningscape.

While there is a lot of attention on the impact the pandemic is having on the hospitality industry, there is no central approach for surviving it. That’s why we saw a blast of reopening on May 1 followed by a steady stream. Look for another burst of activity early next month when places like The Hamilton Supperette and Lounge, Vast, and A Good Egg Dining Group properties have stated plans to turn on the lights. Our list of reopenings was updated on Friday.

Any place that hasn’t started serving at least carryout by middle of June might be a candidate for the history books. 

Industry folks tell me one in four restaurants won’t come back from this downturn, and if things go really sideways the percentage could tickle 40 percent.

Locally, we’ve had a few places reveal plans not to reopen, but until it becomes clear who is coming back and who isn’t, it keeps what’s new on the back burner. Furthermore, any plans for opening or developing beyond the summer are almost all going to be on hold until the economy begins to churn at something resembling normal speed.

Then there are changed dining habits to consider, but those new habits are currently under construction.

That doesn’t mean things have gone stagnant.

Last week, we had a sneak peek at Lua, a partnership between chef Shelby Sieg, Aimee Ahpeatone and Riley Marshall of Bar Arbolada.

Shelby left an exciting new project called Livegrass Butcher & Bistro to return to the kitchen where she built her reputation when it was called The Pritchard.

Livegrass planned to be up and running in March, but that’s when stay at home and shelter in place orders were made across Oklahoma.

Chef Josh Valentine and his partners have given away groceries in the weeks since, and now hope to open in June.

Also mentioned in that previous story how Sieg’s new partnership with Ahpeatone was predicated on a vacancy left by chef Marc Dunham. On Tuesday, Dunham opened a second Nashbird location in Edmond.

Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

The new location, 17 E 5 St., place sits on the ground floor of Park 17, is a mixed-use development across the street from the UCO Jazz Lab.

Dunham has plans for a Norman location on Main Street next, and if those plans hold I would expect it and any further locations to look more like the Edmond store than the original downtown.

While the new spot doesn’t have a full-service bar, it does have a more convenient front counter for ordering, full-strength beer and a dining space more conducive to fast-casual dining. Edmond’s new favorite place for Nashville-style hot chicken doesn’t have an enormous patio, but it does have more outdoor seating than most on its sidewalk.

Speaking of Edmond, I spent the better part of Thursday there visiting Nashbird and Edmond Railyard. Just down the street from Nashbird at Fait Maison, chef Olivier Bouzerand has a new right-hand in Michael Paske, most recently of The Hamilton, who carries Coach House Apprenticeship program pedigree.

Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Edmond Railyard has gradually opened to the public along with its dining establishments. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Edmond Railyard has gradually opened to the public along with its dining establishments. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

Over at Edmond Railyard, the food hall is gradually reopening. As of Thursday, all it’s dining options (Taqueria El Camino, Hott Wings, Gogi Go, Blue J’s Rockin’ Grill, 1884 Bar) had reopened in some capacity except Cities Ice Cream.

Dropped by to visit chef Chris McKenna at Taqueria El Camino, where he is now part-owner. McKenna is excited about that opportunity, and to prove it he made a mess of off-menu tacos for Greg Horton, me and chef Melissa Aust of Stella Modern Italian.

As he proved when he was testing the menu for OSO on Paseo a couple of years ago, McKenna is a bonafide taco jedi.

Wagyu lengua tacos aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Wagyu lengua tacos aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Tacos topped with sliced beef heart aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Tacos topped with sliced beef heart aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

He dazzled us with a turkey machaca breakfast taco made from turkey jerky, a vegan mushroom taco with potatoes, Wagyu lengua with peach salsa, sockeye ceviche, spicy coctel camarones, sliced beef heart and churros.

McKenna said he’ll be spending most, if not all, of his time at Taqueria El Camino going forward for HappyPlate Concepts. That means the already inviting taco offerings will likely get even better.

Baja Fish Taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Baja Fish Taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Fried Chicken taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Fried Chicken taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Elotes from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Elotes from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

I’ve already tried the Baja Fish and Fried Chicken tacos, and can’t wait to get my hands around Brisket Burnt ends. The menu has a dozen other taco options, five variations on the burrito, a handful of sides, four ways to dip tortilla chips, Carne Asada fries, Green Chile chicken taquitos, pork belly bites and elotes in three flavors.

Check out the full menu and confirm store hours here

Farmers marketing

The Red Rooster is the pick-up spot for the Paseo Farmers Market. [Dave Cathey]
The Red Rooster is the pick-up spot for the Paseo Farmers Market. [Dave Cathey]

Scissortail Park is the new home of the OSU-OKC Farmers Market, but the coronavirus postponed the grand opening. Last Saturday, local vendors launched a soft opening downtown and will do another tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with a bigger opening planned for June 6.

Meanwhile, the Paseo Farmers Market has transformed their outdoor market into an online marketplace with an easy no contact curbside pick up at the Red Rooster, 3100 N Walker Ave., on Saturdays.

Customers can place orders on the markets’ website starting 9 a.m. on Mondays through 7 p.m. Thursdays. Pick up is 11 am to 1 p.m. at the Rooster.

Paseo neighbors within a two-mile radius can order delivery via “Ped Ex”. 

The farmers market was launched outside at SixTwelve community center three years ago by Megan Sisco. 

Sisco and board members Jenna Moore, Angela Chase, and Alyssa Fisher adapted the model for this year’s run.

The team developed a system to keep it simple for customers to shop from a wide variety of local products at one site.

Red Rooster has buttressed the farmers market offerings with its own house-made potato chips, hamburger buns, ice cream and prepared meals.

Customers can purchase SNAP-eligible items by using the coupon code “SNAP,” which will zero out their purchase until they come to pick up. The market will process EBT cards as they would on a regular market day.

Check out the inventory and make orders here.

Related Photos
This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ad5ea3ce094d7681130f1720f969560a.jpg" alt="Photo - This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>This vegan taco with mushrooms and potatoes isn't on the regular menu at Taqueria El Camino but vegan options abound. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-199f018aac5fbda59c65444b2e1460ea.jpg" alt="Photo - The Red Rooster is the pick-up spot for the Paseo Farmers Market. [Dave Cathey]" title="The Red Rooster is the pick-up spot for the Paseo Farmers Market. [Dave Cathey]"><figcaption>The Red Rooster is the pick-up spot for the Paseo Farmers Market. [Dave Cathey]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d66bfd7b295e72acc0e37db502ad0ad5.jpg" alt="Photo - Fried Chicken taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Fried Chicken taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Fried Chicken taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9c761088d48f091f391f6fb4352024d6.jpg" alt="Photo - Elotes from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Elotes from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Elotes from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-11352fe848ba56495d1a1536fc8c244a.jpg" alt="Photo - Baja Fish Taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Baja Fish Taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Baja Fish Taco from Taqueria El Camino. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-78869336b338e19fa1f645bea3157296.jpg" alt="Photo - Edmond Railyard has gradually opened to the public along with its dining establishments. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Edmond Railyard has gradually opened to the public along with its dining establishments. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Edmond Railyard has gradually opened to the public along with its dining establishments. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e23477f3a5d0508f1f7d6b4894263eeb.jpg" alt="Photo - Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4390129cce6a81ad29ec14a7b1232f19.jpg" alt="Photo - Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Edmond Railyard has reopened. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ed017a7879cb3623d6299479733c65b3.jpg" alt="Photo - Tacos topped with sliced beef heart aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Tacos topped with sliced beef heart aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Tacos topped with sliced beef heart aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0d19bd41c92ef04d7dd83a9934910999.jpg" alt="Photo - Wagyu lengua tacos aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Wagyu lengua tacos aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Wagyu lengua tacos aren't on the menu at Taqueria El Camino, but chef Chris McKenna might add them as a special eventually. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-323a75550b02eeb51a5827962786dd3d.jpg" alt="Photo - Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-594cce6150b091a9f6b2b7815a197b5f.jpg" alt="Photo - Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f71a2e984ec3b59f6ca8d52c9a69c787.jpg" alt="Photo - Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Nashbird has opened its second location in Edmond. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
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 ›

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