POSTED ON AUGUST 5, 2009:
Bless This Food
Couple greets customers with scripture of the day and meal to satisfy
Downtowns abound with little delis tucked away in office buildings; Tulsa is no exception. In square blocks, downtown has the heaviest concentration of eateries compared to other areas of the city.
With a little ingenuity and desire, any little nook can feasibly work for food preparation and service. For Anita and Jim Chantre, owners of Hopscotch Deli, it was simply that--and a strong faith in the Lord.
"I stepped out in faith," Anita said early one morning as I visited with her and her husband Jim as they prepped food for the day. Formerly employed in the dietary department at St. John Medical Center, Anita said, "I was called to come here and put up the word of God." Her husband had worked under the former owner of the location; he then bought the space when it went up for sale.
Growing up in Tulsa and then graduating from Will Rogers High School, Anita is three years into this business and said while the space is very tiny, they use it very efficiently.
It's true. Walking into this little place on the first floor of the Petroleum Building, 601 S. Boulder, there is barely room for two bar tables that seat four people each, a slender area to place an order and a slightly larger area for food prep.
Anita and Jim are very friendly and unassuming. They greet everyone warmly, like they're family, all the while getting the orders made. A small convection oven, an electric griddle, a deep fry, a microwave, a refrigerator and a few additional items fill the kitchen.
While the menu is simple, the variety is pleasing. Breakfast begins at 6am, lunch at 11am. "Sausage rolls, biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos sell very well for breakfast," Anita said. Other morning selections include Croissant Sandwich ($3.75), Biscuit Sandwich ($2.50), Muffin (.89), Cinnamon Toast with Butter (.80) and a Bagel with Cream Cheese ($1).
For lunch, Anita and Jim prepare "basic sandwiches" as Anita described them: turkey, ham, club, grilled chicken, grilled cheese, hamburger and fries, patty melt, chicken salad, tuna salad sandwiches, as well as a soup of the day and wraps. The club sandwich is the priciest of all items at $4.75.
A friend of mine and I stopped in for a quick lunch recently, long enough to have a hamburger and fries ($4.75) and a Club Sandwich. We placed our order and luckily one of the two tables was available for us. Many people came to get items to go as we waited.
The casualness of Hopscotch is inevitable--as Jim was building my hamburger, he politely asked across his work area and past other customers to my table, "What would you like on your burger?" Without too much fuss, I responded, "Onion, ketchup and mayo, please."
Our meal took less than 10 minutes, tops, to prepare, so we were quick to begin our lunch. My hamburger was a pre-molded patty that was out of a box and fried on the griddle. The bun rested cool on the burger and the condiments were there, but in conservative amounts. A few special touches would have made this burger better: a liberal touch to the condiments and a grilled (heated/steamed) bun. Crinkled French fries came with the burger, but they lacked crispness.
My friend's Club Sandwich was enjoyable. Three slices of toasted bread were spread with mustard and supported slices of ham, bacon, turkey, lettuce and tomato, creating a stately sandwich. Nothing fancy, just a decent, hearty sandwich made with care.
Anita said that besides the sandwiches, there are daily specials that include hot dishes, such as meat loaf on Mondays and barbecue beef brisket on Fridays. Prepared salads, brownies, cookies and fruit bowls are a few other items available.
The couple is proud of what they have accomplished for themselves. Anita said that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning this little deli is the opportunity to meet so many different and new people. She and Jim are "people persons," making everyone who steps into their little haven feel welcome.
601 S. Boulder #115
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