Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor says many downtown restaurants are struggling, and she is urging patrons to support them until the BOK arena is finished. The News On 6â€™s Chris Wright reports city officials feel downtown restaurants donâ€™t have to be dead after business hours.
The dinner crowd filtered into Caz's Chow House on Wednesday, but there were still plenty of empty seats. The restaurant's owner says that's not the case during lunchtime, but by the evening, everyone has evacuated downtown.
"The evening time, especially during the week, is slower. We're dependent on the lunch crowd to keep the doors open, and any added business would be awesome," said Jeff Castleberry, Caz's Chow House owner.
Caz's is one of a dozen or so restaurants that city officials say needs help. Other establishments include McNellie's, Spaghetti Warehouse, Lola's, Mexicali Border Cafe and everywhere else downtown that remains open at night, such as Tsunami Sushi. Tsunami says it is not exactly struggling, but would love to see downtown continue to grow.
"A lot of other big cities usually have a downtown night life, and that's one thing we need going on," said Julie Longoria of Tsunami Sushi.
The city, of course, is banking on the arena to accomplish that, but is urging Tulsans to help out until construction is finished.
While the majority of commuters leave downtown right after work, those who do stick around say the city is preaching to the choir.
"We work downtown, we love to come downtown. They have great food, great atmosphere, I think downtown has a lot to offer," Tulsan Terri Blevins said.
And Jeff Castleberry, who has operated restaurants and bars downtown for 12 years, says he's not going anywhere.
"Last year we had our best year ever,â€ he said. â€œSo that tells me that people are actually coming downtown for the entertainment, and there's been room for growth."
Restaurant owners we talked to say the arrival of this arena won't solve all their problems, but it can't be bad for business.
Watch the video: Mayor Calls On Tulsans To Help Downtown Restaurants