Entrepreneur Elliot Nelson should have the latest addition to his downtown restaurant, bar and entertainment venue empire by the holidays with the addition of the Dust Bowl bowling alley at 211 S. Elgin, he said last week.
Nelson originally had hoped to have the Dust Bowl open by the middle of summer, but a study of the site, which was once home to a garage, by the state Department of Environmental Quality took longer than expected. Nelson said that issue was on the verge of being resolved, and he planned on submitting the paperwork for his building permit as soon as it was. He hoped to begin construction by Aug. 1.
"We were trying to be open by 10-10-10, but instead we're going to try to be open by Thanksgiving," he said.
The Dust Bowl will be located next to one of Nelson's other properties, the Dilly Deli at 402 E. 2nd St. Because of the limited size of the building, 8,500 square feet, it will feature only eight lanes, each of which will be 120 feet long, leaving little wiggle room in a 1930s-era structure that is only 150 feet long.
But Nelson said he has seen other small, urban bowling alleys of a dozen lanes or so that work well. He said he got the idea for the project while visiting his in-laws in northern Wisconsin, where their town features a six-lane bowling alley that is a hub of activity. Nelson believes the Dust Bowl will complement the other business interests he holds in the Blue Dome District, which include James E. McNellie's Public House, Yokozuna, El Guapo and the Dilly Deli.
The bowling alley will feature a bar and small kitchen that produces a limited menu, Nelson has said, including burgers, sandwiches and a lineup of gourmet corn dogs. The bowling alley will share a patio with the Dilly Deli.
Nelson said the construction of the lanes themselves should take very little time, as he plans on contracting with a company that has told him it should be able to complete the work in four weeks. The more time-consuming aspect of the interior work, he said, is likely to be the construction of a bar.
Nelson reported progress on another project he has been working on for quite some time, as well. He said he recently had received the engineering specifications for a neon sign he plans to put atop his Yokozuna Asian noodle restaurant at 309 E. 2nd St., clearing the way for him to order the sign, which is being constructed by Claude Neon Federal Signs Inc. of Tulsa.
"We got held up on the engineering part of it," he said. "We had to make sure it didn't fly off the roof (in a strong wind)."
Nelson said he is submitting the paperwork for the permit that will allow him to erect the sign, which would be the first of its kind in many years in downtown Tulsa. Nelson and Blake Ewing, owner of several other nearby businesses, including Joe Momma's Pizza, led the effort to have the City Council adopt a measure permitting rooftop neon signs in the Blue Dome earlier this year in an attempt to help the fledgling arts and entertainment district develop its own identity. Ewing has said he plans to place a neon sign atop a bar he plans to open soon called The Max Retropub at 114 S. Elgin.
Nelson said the sign atop Yokozuna should be in place within three or four weeks.
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