Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Emily White talks of why she likes working at McNellies and how it is unique from other Norman bars.

McNellies Hopes to be Norman Legend

"You're not coming here to get a bud light lime and get drunk with your girlfriends." said Chris Schroeder, OU student and novice beer connoisseur. McNellies is a popular bar among Oklahoma beer enthusiasts for offering many international beers on tap. Emily White, bartender and shift manager at the Norman location, said they felt it was high time to spread the wealth to Normanites. "I think a lot of people came from Tulsa and knew about us, so they're telling all of their Norman friends."

"I'm in here most pint nights to see what they're offering and to expand my horizons," said Schroeder. The pub and grill offers over 200 kinds of beer, 30 of which are on tap. It also boasts a true pub atmosphere, with a relaxed and friendly environment. White said the atmosphere is one of her favorite reasons for working here. "It's nice not having to deal with people who just want to get drunk off a cheap beer, who are actually here to enjoy it." said White.

Crowded on a Tuesday night, the bar seems to already have skyrocketed in popularity. But White said the pub is doing many things to get more Norman citizens in the door. "Our pint nights and three dollar burger nights really draw in the college crowd." And being the only pub of it's kind in Norman, White said this bar seems well on it's way to legendary proportions. "We're not on the level of the Tulsa bar just yet, but they better watch out, cause we're sure as heck gonna be."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summerside Winery

Local Winery Can't Find It's Roots

Ten years ago, a winery in Oklahoma would have only been a figment of Marsha Butler’s imagination. Known for their strict command on alcohol, Oklahoma liquor laws prevented any Oklahoman from starting their own winery until they were repealed in 2000. “We were so tired of our desk jobs, and we saw that the law had been repealed, so we decided to jump on the opportunity to open a winery,” said Butler. But now, more liquor laws may stand in their way of becoming a success.

The Butlers count their blessings, however. In 2004, a law was repealed that prevented Oklahoma liquor vendors from shipping their liquor outside the state. The Butlers previously skirted around this by taking their liquor to out-of-state festivals, in hopes that it would bring customers to their winery for more. “When you’re first introducing your brand, festivals just seem like the best solution,” said Shirley.

Butler said she feels the next hurdle will be getting wine into grocery stores. “People from others states laugh at us,” she said, “They just go ‘Well, that’s Oklahoma for you.’ ” The Butlers actively fight the prohibition of liquor in Oklahoma, and they ask that those on their side visit to help lift the strict shipping laws. Butler hopes lifting these laws will bring the cultural sigh of relief Oklahoma desperately needs.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The International Pantry Bit Off More Than It Could Chew

A crowded cooking class watches as Chef Robert Black makes Scotch Eggs.

Jocelyn Wall underestimated the boom her business would experience. “I never expected it to get so popular,” she said over the many conversations happening in last Thursday’s cooking class. The 28 seats were almost full, which caused its guests to be quite territorial. One woman refused a young couple’s request to sit next to her because she was "saving seats for her friends.” Wall said the class, hosted once a week, is almost always packed. “I even let people stand sometimes. Any business is good business.”

Despite their popularity, Wall said the International Pantry may not be able to handle growth anytime soon. Wall currently acts as manager and owner while her store manager heals from a serious car accident. Wall adds that finding part-time workers also presents its own challenge. “So many young people in Norman are transients, so once you get them fully trained, they have to leave again.”

Robert Black, Chef at Iron Starr Bar-B-Q and perpetual teacher of the classes, said he feels the price of success is worth it. “Yeah, it may be a little crowded, but we’re able to give families something to cook other than meatloaf. It’s also more cost-effective than going out for that same meal.” Classes cost 25 to 35 dollars a person. Dates and menus for each cooking class can be found at .

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Different Kind of Sugar

Sugar Custom Cake Shop is the bakery that refuses to be like any other. "Everyone comes to a bakery and wants all kinds of dessert stuff," said owner Christie England, "This is what I know how to make, and I'm sticking to it." White Castle burgers, odes to Mad Men, and telephone booths are just some of the creations produced at Sugar. "If you want to do something creative and off the wall, this is the place," said England.

Even though the bakery has only been open since November, new customers are coming in daily with strange orders for the sugar artists. "People like to get pretty creative with their requests, and we spend the time to make it right," said England. England said their strangest cake was an armadillo run down by a motorcycle. Claire Dwyer Lee is a customer of the bakery, and she ordered a Mad Men themed cake for her husband's 30th birthday. "Other bakery cakes look good but taste boxed, and some cakes taste great but aren't as pretty," said Lee, "I just know Sugar is creative and I trusted they would do a really good job."

This trendy, forward-thinking cake shop has also taken advantage of one the best forms of free advertisement; social networking. Their Facebook fan page has pictures of all of their cake creations, as well as photos, fan comments, and notifications of events and bakery specials. "Facebook has just done wonders [for us]," said England. And with over three thousand fans, this business seems like it's well on its way to success.