River Parks users soon will have a place to enjoy a cold drink and a meal--perhaps even some live music, weather permitting--with the anticipated opening of Elwood's at 1924 Riverside Drive.
Tom Dittus of Swamphouse Partners LLC, the group that was chosen by the Tulsa River Parks Authority in March 2009 to develop the old River's Edge Bistro site into a full-service restaurant, said the opening of Elwood's in the refurbished River's Edge building is expected in early March. He said last week the operation already had received Health Department approval, a county beer permit and its certificate of occupancy, paving the way for its opening as soon as some final details were covered.
Dittus said Elwood's initially is expected to be open from 10am to 10pm daily.
"Once warm weather hits, we'll be open from 10am to 2am," he said.
While the menu is still being developed, Dittus said he expects it to include light deli-style sandwiches, soups and chili, along with plenty of cold beer. Elwood's also will cater to park users, offering such items as bottled water, energy bars and fresh fruit for sale.
The small building, which has been renovated during the past few months, will feature a seating area covered by roll-down vinyl panels and warmed with propane heaters, Dittus said. He expects that area to accommodate 50 to 60 people.
Swamphouse Partners has leased 4.5 acres of park land, Dittus said, and park patrons are welcome to bring their own blankets and chairs and enjoy Elwood's hospitality and service. He said the area would not be fenced off except perhaps for the occasional special event, such as a Fourth of July celebration already in the works.
Restrooms are located in an adjacent structure maintained by the River Parks Authority, Dittus said, though he noted plans call for the replacement of those facilities at some point with another building to be constructed on the north side of a nearby playground.
When the new restrooms are open, he said, he and his partners will convert the old building into a Rose Clothes sales location, from which clothing will be sold bearing the logo of the Blue Rose Café, the full-service bar and grill that will be constructed nearby on piers on the Arkansas River. That structure also will feature restrooms, he said.
Dittus said progress continues on the new Blue Rose Café, which is expected to open late this year as a 3,000-square-foot, $500,000, full-service operation. He said Swamphouse Partners has submitted its application for a building permit to the city and is hoping for a response within the next couple of weeks. That would allow construction on the project--which will have indoor seating for 100 people and deck seating for another 80 to 90--to begin.
In the meantime, Elwood's will operate as a satellite operation of the Blue Rose, offering live music as soon as conditions are favorable.
"We're humbled to have the opportunity to do this," Dittus said. "I think everybody will be really pleased with the renovation of that small space ... We're just going to throw a party out there every day."
Dittus said he has been deluged with calls recently from staff members who worked at the old Blue Rose Café location in the Brookside district throughout the 1990s inquiring about coming to work at Elwood's.
"It'll be the same relaxed, casual atmosphere," he said. "We've got a bunch of people excited to serve guests."
In the meantime, Dittus is just hoping the weather takes a turn for the better.
"I'm just kind of sick of snow," he said, laughing. "I'm ready for park weather."
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