Old spaces, new places arrive in Norman
A boutique transforms into a barbecue. A sandwich shop becomes a Smoothie King. An Asian restaurant makes a Pizza Hut into a piece of multiculturalism. All around Norman, new businesses are proving that when one door closes, another one opens, literally.
During winter 2008, Harold’s Outlet filed bankruptcy and shut down. However, this gave the owners of Iron Starr Urban BBQ the chance to bring their restaurant to the coveted Campus Corner location.
“It was a really hot spot,” client relations manager Kari Sneider said. “The area has grown, and we thought it would be a fun place. We are big Sooner fans and thought being by the stadium would be a great opportunity.”
Although changing from a clothing store to a barbecue may seem like a difficult task, the company does not plan to make many alterations, Heather Paul, one of the owners, said in an e-mail, “We won’t be changing much of the existing interior. We like to open our restaurants in older buildings [because] they provide a deeper element.”
The owners plan to open the Iron Starr Urban BBQ by the first OU home football game on Sept. 12, Sneider said.
Another eatery taking advantage of open space is a new Smoothie King, located in Stubbeman Village near the residence halls. The smoothie shop fills the former home of Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.
Co-owner John Silman said he had been thinking about opening a Smoothie King for a long time and believed the timing was perfect when the space became available.
“This is just a great spot, a great location,” Silman said. “Space hasn’t opened up [here] for five years, so we had to seize it.”
On the east side of Norman, a renovated Pizza Hut building has become, O Asian Fusion.
“It is a fusion of all different types of Asian foods,” manager Taylor Roberston said. “The cultural influences of the restaurant set it apart. There is a lot of Korean and Thai that make it different than people just trying to do Asian food. We also have a full sushi bar, which a lot of people don’t think can fit in an old Pizza Hut restaurant.”
Robertson also said that the entire culinary team has proper training in preparing all the different types of Asian food, one reason why O Asian Fusion is special compared to competitors.
Iron Starr Urban BBQ, 575 S. University St.
Smoothie King, 1129 Elm Ave.
O Asian Fusion, 105 SE. 12th Ave.
Other new businesses in Norman
Academy Sports and Outdoors, 2010 NW. 24th St.
Although the Academy is currently under construction, workers from tdFarrell Construction Inc. are aiming to complete it by Oct. 15,, project manager Mark Thompson said. Sooner Investments owns the land, as well as the entire University Town Center next to it, which houses Target.
Artisan’s Pride Meat Market, 1965 W. Lindsey St.
Artisan’s Pride is the first meat market in Norman in 11 years, managing member Zane Edwards said. It serves a variety of meat, including beef, pork, lamb, and veal. All meat is injection- and additive-free, and the market holds itself to very high sanitation standards. Orders are can be customized by weight and cut.
Cha Cha’s Grille y Cantina, 3720 W. Robinson St.
SAS Constructors are building this new Mexican restaurant in Brookhaven Village, a shopping center home to many businesses, ranging from Chico’s to OK Runner. Cha Cha’s will be in the suite that Champions Sports Bar & Grill previously occupied. According to SAS Constructors, Cha Cha’s will open in mid-October.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, 765 Asp Ave.
The popular burrito restaurant is scheduled to open in the Boomer Theater building in November, communications director Chris Arnold said. This is the first time the Boomer Theater has been home to a restaurant. Chipotle will be across the street from one of their primary competitors, Freebirds World Burrito.
East Buffet, 700 Ed Noble Parkway
Since opening four weeks ago, East Buffet, a Chinese restaurant, has had a steady flow of customers, cashier Kaien Weng said. Although its main focus is American style Chinese food, it also serves choice Mexican food such as tacos. OU students can receive a 10 percent discount on meals with a student ID.
Imagine Paul Mitchell Partner School, 3030 William Pereira Dr., off of Ed Noble Parkway
Located in what used to be the Just For Feet building, Imagine is a cosmetology school designed to provide the education and tools for students to become certified hairdressers, employee Chrisi Bache said. Many students go on from the training school to become professionals in Paul Mitchell focus salons. The school is under construction but has started enrolling students for the Sept. 22 classes. After that, new sessions will begin every eight weeks.