On Nov. 1, local businessman, new City Councilor and Joe Momma's owner Blake Ewing broke ground on his newest project, the Phoenix Café.
Ewing, along with Shelby and Rachel Navarro of One Architecture, dug their shovels into the mud and smiled for photos inside an empty, historic red-brick building on the southeast corner of Sixth St. and Peoria Ave.
Afterward, Ewing talked excitedly about the funky college town coffee shop in Siloam Springs, Ark., that inspired his latest café-bar-coffeehouse in the Pearl District.
He imagined a warm fireplace glow emanating from the Phoenix's front windows, and spilling onto herringbone brick sidewalks; walls lined with bookshelves; and the comforting smell of paperbacks and boiling bagels; the cozy sound of Tulsans deep in conversation over coffee or drinks.
Shelby Navarro, one of the architects behind the new Admiral Twin construction, said the café should be open by February.
The Phoenix Café is directly east of Centennial Park on Sixth, and local Pearl District activists are hoping this will be the fire needed to boost redevelopment in the Pearl District.
"The revitalization of the Pearl District is a testament to what happens when neighbors come together and realize the potential their neighborhood has to offer," Ewing said. "I am honored to be a part of it."
Pearl District advocate and developer Jamie Jamieson said young people want to hang out in hip, downtown and midtown hotspots, not "suburban strip malls, sitting around old ladies."
Just across the street from the Phoenix Café construction is the already open Lot No. 6 Art Bar, owned by Vanessa Somerville.
The Phoenix will serve house blends of locally roasted coffee and hand-mixed cream cheese spreads. The café will also feature a full bar -- one of the few places where you can get a handcrafted espresso drink or cocktail.
The walls of used books will be available for purchase, perusal or trade. The Phoenix, a full-on used bookstore, will specialize in paperback fiction, local books, magazines and comic books.
To engage the community, Ewing's new café will feature local art on the walls, and host live music, poetry readings, book clubs and crafting parties.
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