At times in some restaurants around town, it is difficult to leaf through the novel — nope, that’s a menu — to decide what to order. Thank goodness, hungry diners will no longer face hard decisions pondering what to try, as the Pauls are sensitive to the needs of their clientele.
If all goes well, this new kid on the block could prove to be one of the hardest restaurants to get into around town.Sean Ray and Heather and Keith Paul are partners in A Good Egg Dining Group. The Pauls both have extensive backgrounds in the hospitality business. They met while they were employed as sales representatives for Ben E. Keith Foods, which gave them the opportunity to observe firsthand how restaurants operated on a day-by-day basis.
In fact, Heather had a connection to the long-closed Painted Desert, 3700 N. Shartel. Her mother, Tanya Turner, was a partner in the venture at one time, and Heather was employed there.
Heather and her husband, Paul, a self-taught chef, now own Iron Starr Urban Barbeque in that location. The first launch of A Good Egg was at Cheever’s Cafe, 2409 N. Hudson, in 2000. For three years, Keith labored days at Ben E. Keith and also spent evenings working at the restaurant. Meanwhile, Heather spent all of her working hours at Cheever’s.
Yet as their experience grew, so did their many concepts. Today, patrons will find many other local restaurants under the Good Egg umbrella: Cheever’s Catering, 401 N.W. 23rd; Republic Gastropub, 5830 N. Classen Blvd.; and Red Prime Steak, 504 N. Broadway. These restaurants, along with Cheever’s and Iron Starr, are among some of the coolest restaurants around town, showcasing innovative menus under the direction of chef Robert Black (pictured), an accomplished chef with a real passion for food.The new concept will be named Tucker’s Onion Burgers. Why “Tucker’s”? They’re not talking.
“This is being kept secret, but I can say that Tucker’s knows his beef,” Heather Paul said. She may be secretive about the name — It sounds as if it could be a family pet, doesn’t it? — yet she does not hesitate to share her enthusiasm for the newest eatery.
Tucker’s, 324 N.W. 23rd, will be located catty-corner from Cheever’s Catering, which used to be Market C.
A Good Egg has been toying with the Tucker’s concept for more than 18 months.
“The idea of Tucker’s — a premium, fast-casual concept — is our first in that arena. All of the rest are full-service restaurants,” Paul said.
The decor inside will be vintage modern, with huge windows all around. And although they expect to have space for approximately 70 seats (and weather permitting, seats and tables outside on the patio), Tucker’s will be magnificently minimalist.
Heather and Keith Paul, who has always been fond of those onion burgers, are both interested in preserving history and have a real respect not only for the Oklahoma-born burgers, but vintage real estate around the city.
“This is another opportunity for us to rehab another building in our area,” Heather Paul said. “All of our restaurants are all historic, except for Republic. Tucker’s building is from 1953 and not as old as the others. All of our restaurants are deeply rooted in history. We love it and love where we live in our community.”
ALL ABOUT BURGERS
In her book “The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipe, History and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread,” author Susan Russo gives a nice background on hamburgers.
She writes: “Known originally as a hamburger sandwich, the humble hamburger was introduced to America by German immigrants in the mid- 19th century. By the early 20th century, hamburgers were a popular food at fairs and street-side food carts. Yet they took a big hit in 1906 with the publication of ‘The Jungle,’ Upton Sinclair’s expose of the meatpacking industry. In 1921, Bill Ingram and Walter Anderson helped rebrand the hamburger when they opened the White Castle System of Eating Houses, offering diners a 5-cent hamburger.”
Closer to home, the onion burger was invented in Oklahoma, according to Heather Paul of the yet-to-debut Tucker’s Onion Burgers. In fact, the famous El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day is staged in El Reno every May.
“There are several onion burger places in El Reno, but this will be our version,” she said. “Everything will be natural and fresh, and anytime we can get local produce, we will use it.”
At Tucker’s, the burgers will be kicked up a notch, and the meat won’t be the same old grind. The Pauls will be using local, all-natural and hormonefree beef from Creekstone Farms.
Everyone knows there is no such thing as a hamburger without a bun, and Tucker’s buns will be made by Prairie Thunder Baking Co., 1114 Classen Drive.
They won’t be messing around with the staff either. The couple has always been known to choose the best of the best when hiring personnel. Several members of their crew, in turn, are not afraid to tell anyone that A Good Egg Dining Group has been “good eggs” to them.
Look for Tucker’s Onion Burgers to open soon. —Carol Smaglinski
Photo by Shannon Cornman.