The Brady Tavern by McNellie's Group is a rustic downtown Tulsa eatery featuring upscale pub food and a large selection of spirits. Formerly Lola’s at the Bowery, construction began on the restaurant in late October, 2010, and was open within a couple months. The beautiful wood bar and dining room was left untouched except for a new floor, paint, lights, and custom benches. However, the kitchen was completely gutted. Once construction began, the owner uncovered issues and decided to replace everything, including the floor joists.
Brady Tavern’s Executive Chef says, “The kitchen area was originally a small café, not a commercial kitchen, that serviced the main tavern next door. It simply wasn’t functional for our volume of food and size. The kitchen was tiny and had a ton of wasted space.”
A few of the original elements were used, but 75% of the kitchen is new, including floors, vent hood system, cooking equipment, prep areas, and custom made chef’s tables. The restaurant did not have a formal kitchen plan. Instead, Chef Vespasian took a measuring tape and created a truly functional chef’s kitchen.
The Chef comments, “We were limited by space, but I knew what equipment was needed for our constantly changing menu and sheer volume of food service. Our Curtis Restaurant Supply representative, Andrea Norwood, kept her cool and kicked some ass to turn this project around on time. She involved Curtis’ co-owner, Jay Gulick, and between the two of them, they pulled it off.”
The kitchen project took a month and a half, from start to finish, including kitchen demolition. “Of all the companies we worked with on this project, Curtis Restaurant Supply surpassed our expectations on service and price. Our custom-made chef’s tables were a last minute item and were designed and fabricated in only one week. I think one of the best things about Curtis is their inventory. The ability to walk into their store and get 90% of what I need is great, and no one can beat their prices.”
A unique feature of the Brady Tavern is the open-concept kitchen. Elliott Nelson, CEO of McNellie’s Group, incorporated special chef’s tables in the kitchen design. Popular in Europe for decades, and found in cities like Chicago and New York City, Mr. Nelson experienced the concept first-hand on a trip to France, and brought the concept back home to Tulsa. The two maple-topped chef’s tables are functional prep tables before the restaurant opens, but transform into an exclusive dining experience for parties of up to six or eight diners in the evening. Guests are literally in the kitchen as meals are prepared. They interact with the chefs by asking questions, and can request special appetizers that are made to order. The chef’s table dining experience is scheduled weeks in advance and is available by reservation only by calling (918) 949-9801.
Another attraction at the Brady Tavern is the daily grilled cheese sandwich special. Chef says, “Some restaurants make their grilled cheese with a small amount of cheese, or things like cream cheese with cucumbers. In my head, that’s not a grilled cheese sandwich at all. The cheese is the star. We make our grilled cheese sandwiches with cheeses like Gruyére, Fontina, Swiss, and Brie. They are grilled to perfection on our homemade Foccacia bread made by our in-house pastry chef, and are absolutely guaranteed to be hot, and oozing with lots of gooey cheese. We have a different cheese sandwich every day, paired with our tomato bisque soup, for only $10.00.”
The restaurant has a standard lunch and dinner menu, but also includes daily chalkboard specials based on the season, holiday, or what is new at the market. The Chef encourages his talented staff to create daily chalkboard specials to delight their customers. It keeps our menu exciting and challenges the staff to create interesting dishes. We never know what’s on the daily menu. It could be a whole roasted pig, Guinness braised short ribs, or a special delectable dessert from our pastry chef. It’s great to have an owner like Elliott Nelson who lets us experiment with local, fresh ingredients. Our only restriction is our culinary imaginations.”
McNellie’s Group also operates McNellie’s Pub, El Guapo’s Mexican Cantina, Dilly Deli, The Dust Bowl Lounge & Lanes, Fassler Hall and Yokozuna in downtown Tulsa, the Colony bar in Tulsa, a second McNellie’s Pub in Oklahoma City, and Abner’s Ale House in Norman.