Mention: New River Parks eatery open for business

By | March 29, 2010

Tulsa World

New River Parks eatery open for business
Elwood’s Cafe is a satellite of the upcoming Blue Rose Restaurant.

Pat Quinn is served a beer Tuesday by Susan Allen at Elwood’s Cafe near 19th Street and Riverside Drive. Elwood’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

By P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer
Published: 3/10/2010 2:23 AM
Last Modified: 3/10/2010 8:56 AM

Elwood’s is open for business with customer turnout in its first few days proving that River Parks remains an ideal spot for an outdoor cafe experience.

“The crowd has been unbelievable,” co-owner Tom Dittus said Tuesday.

Elwood’s Cafe, 1924 S. Riverside Drive, is in the popular former Rivers Edge Bistro and Cafe site.

It is a satellite cafe of the soon-to-be-built Blue Rose Restaurant, which will be just to the south and closer to the east bank.

Dittus, the owner of the former Blue Rose Cafe, is part of Swamphouse Partners LLC, which is resurrecting the Brookside restaurant on piers over the river.

Construction of the full-service restaurant is set to begin before the end of the month, with an opening planned in late August, Dittus said.

Meanwhile, Elwood’s, named after the Blue Rose’s penguin mascot, is serving park users with cold drinks, sandwiches and weekend entertainment.

Dittus said the weather over the weekend provided for a “great happy hour” crowd Friday.

“I think some people even took off work a little early to come down and see us,” he said.

Elwood’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. During warmer weather, the hours will be extended until midnight on the weekends, Dittus said.

The cafe will have live entertainment during the day on the weekends. Starting the first Thursday in April, local musician Mark Bruner will play every Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dittus said he is booking additional performers
for the rest of the summer.

The cafe caters to park users — walkers, joggers and cyclists — with items such as bottled water, sports drinks and energy bars.

In addition to soft drinks, it will offer a variety of beer and a deli menu with sandwiches made to order from fresh ingredients, he said.

The cafe also has Blue Rose T-shirts and hats for sale.

Dittus said the cafe’s sound system “created quite an attraction for our opening with the music playing to the park.”

He said most patron comments were about the renovated facility.

The small building has been opened up with drop-down awnings and a few propane heaters “so we can feed people when it’s chilly outside,” and a newly built “casual, funky” bar, Dittus said.

The cafe has about 15 tables that seat four each.

“The opening has just been wonderful,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of old friends and I’m meeting a lot of new ones.”

Dittus said he is lucky to have partners who have “such a great vision.”

“It’s my job just to not screw it up,” he quipped.
A sample of the menu from Elwood’s Cafe

* The “Hanson,” named for the Tulsa singing trio: a fourcheese panini.

* The “Tractors,” named after the Tulsa-based band fronted by Steve Ripley: a beef, ham and cheddar sandwich topped with the works and creamy Italian dressing.

* The “Detox”: all-vegetable sandwich with balsamic dressing.

* The “Mazeppa,” named after Gailard Sartain’s character in the popular local 1970s late-night weekend show “The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting”: a spicy Italian sausage sandwich smothered with melted mozzarella.

Covering project costs
Infrastructure improvements: $250,000 in 2006 third-penny sales-tax money

Blue Rose Cafe restaurant: $350,000 in private funds

Elwood’s: $85,000 in private funds

Total: $685,000

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