Coming soon: The Phoenix Cafe
For several months, Ron and I have been eagerly — one might even say obsessively — driving through the Pearl District to check the progress of the work being done to a former garage at the intersection of Sixth and Peoria.
Last year, we got word that the building, which takes up most of the block, was the future home of city councilor and local mover and shaker Blake Ewing’s newest project: the Phoenix Cafe, a combination coffeehouse, bar and used bookstore named for the mythical bird that is consumed by fire but resurrects itself from its own ashes to live again. The name, of course, is symbolic of the once-vibrant Pearl District, which fell on hard times but appears to be on the cusp of a rebirth similar to that of downtown Tulsa.
Ewing had me at coffee, but it was the bookstore bit that absolutely thrilled my English-major soul, while Ron — who is not a coffee drinker — loved the idea of being able to have a beer while I enjoy my espresso.
The long months of waiting are nearly over. The still-unfinished Phoenix held an open house this weekend, during which general manager David Fell gave us a tour of the building and told us about the plans for the business, which include late hours (and I mean late, not just late-by-Tulsa-coffeehouse-standards — we’re talking 2 a.m. here), a mural painted across the library’s barrel ceiling, and prepacked picnics to go, suitable for taking advantage of pretty afternoons at nearby Centennial Park.
If it’s anything like Ewing’s other projects — which include Back Alley Blues & BBQ, Joe Momma’s Pizza, and The Max Retropub — the Phoenix should be a first-class operation. Ron and I have often compared Ewing to Joe Edwards of University City, Mo., the entrepreneur who has spent the past 40 years turning a formerly run-down stretch of Delmar Boulevard into one of the most popular hipster hangouts in St. Louis County.
Fell said the Phoenix should have its soft opening sometime in mid-August. Can. Not. Wait.