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From despair to delightful


OKC migrates ‘uptown’ as local businesses along N.W. 23rd Street thrive.

Carmen Forman November 30th, 2011

In recent years, Oklahoma City and N.W. 23rd Street district has shifted from a blighted strip to a hipster haven bustling with local businesses.

With openings of places like Tucker’s Onion Burgers, 324 N.W. 23rd, and Cafe Kacao, 3325 N. Classen, this year, it seems that “uptown” has become a place for local businesses to thrive.

Keith Paul, Good Egg Dining creator and owner of Cheever’s Cafe and Tucker’s, remembers when Cheever’s opened in 2000. He said there would be up to 10 drug deals a day on various parts of 23rd, and the panhandler population has been cut by 90 percent since then.

“The area has made a complete 180,” he said.

Paul and Cuppies & Joe owner Peggy Diefenderfer agreed that part of the reason new life has been breathed into uptown Oklahoma City is because of the location. Both said being close to the Paseo Arts District and downtown have had a good impact on the neighborhood.

right, Inside Tucker's Onion Burgers.

Diefenderfer said when she was looking for a place to open her business, she didn’t want a place downtown, but something nearby. She said in the “artsy” uptown neighborhood, people appreciate local businesses.

“Maybe people are starting to realize that you don’t have to have a big commercial property to have a successful business,” she said.

Once open, Cheever’s welcomed clientele from across the city, and people were drawn to the neighborhood’s eclectic feel, Paul said. As one of the first successful businesses to the area, its success spurred the creation of other local spots.

Big Truck Tacos partner Chris  Lower said he was encouraged to open his restaurant on 23rd because Cheever’s and Cuppies & Joe were flourishing nearby.

“It’s very central,” Lower said. “It just makes sense that there’d be a lot of business to go around.”

Several uptown business owners also believe the Tower Theater renovations that began in 2010 helped class up the neighborhood.

Luidgi Del Cid, owner of Cafe Kacao, said the change had him rethinking his eating decisions.

“Me and my family have started to become like the people who come eat here,” he said. “We no longer eat at chain restaurants.

More Than Food
Uptown offers more than just eateries. Consider Stinson Design Group, a full-service design firm and retail shop at 315 N.W. 23rd.

Owner David Stinson had an office on Classen for about two and a half years, but looked elsewhere after splitting with his business partner.

“I kind of wanted to be a place where my clients could come and look through the catalog, and actually see samples of furniture before they bought them,” he said.

Stinson looks forward to having one-on-one relationships with his clients because of the retail portion of his business.

right, A customer walks into Cuppies & Joe.

He chose the location partly because of the lack of design retail firms in the area. He also likes the atmosphere of the street.

“I have a nice mix of contemporary and traditional, so I feel like I can have a nice flow of everyone coming through,” Stinson said.

Photos by Mark Hancock

 
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