Downtown Restaurant Sitting High

Monday, March 19th 2007, 9:22 pm

By: News On 6

The St. Patrick's Day celebration in downtown Tulsa was bigger than ever, and the collection of downtown restaurants keeps growing too. It's not the luck of the Irish. It's just hard work. McNellie's owner Elliot Nelson says they had 6,000 people go through the doors over the weekend. That's 10 times what he got when he opened 3 years ago.The News On 6’s Steve Berg reports now he's preparing to open another restaurant across the street and up in the air.

Nelson's lofty ambition is to create the first, that he's aware of anyway, rooftop dining in Tulsa, the Mexican restaurant, El Guapo.

"We're close. I mean all the big work's done now,” said Nelson. “It's all details, now."

Much like he did with McNellie's, he's practically building a new structure inside the century-old shell to provide the support they need.

"This has been a lot harder project because something on the roof, to get all the drainage right and everything and getting all the decking down and really get it all to work has been an engineering nightmare, but I think it'll be worth it," Nelson said.

On the first floor will be the main bar and a long, communal table that he felt would fit better with the narrow yet tall space.

"Other than that, we've tried to leave as much as we could of what was here, as far as the wood trusses and the original plaster that was on the walls still," said Nelson.

The skyline side will be completely open. The McNellie's side will be partially covered.

“I mean it'll be wide open and open air, but nobody will be able to jump out which is a big concern for me and my insurance company."

There will be seating for about 90 people on the rooftop at El Guapo, which he expects will be the most popular floor. El Guapo should be ready to open in June.

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