Some Assembly required: Film Row’s venue with a menu to open early summer

Published Monday, May 15, 2017
by Molly M. Fleming

The building that is now The Jones Assembly has a high ceiling, an open-air patio, and a view from downtown’s developing west side.

It can hold nearly 1,600 people for a live music event.

But it had to be more than that, said Graham Colton, one of the partners in the project at 901 W. Sheridan Ave. He’s working with Brian Bogert, Kirk and Fred Hall of Hall Capital, and chef Brittany Sanger.

“We didn’t see a financial model of just being a music venue,” he said. “We thought, ‘What does the city need? What can it support? What can we deliver? It felt a hell of a lot bigger than a music venue.”

Bogert said the monthly live music and ticketed events are a small part of the business plan. Tickets are on sale now for the first show, The Wallflowers and Better than Ezra on July 29.

But people should be able to try the fare a few weeks before the show.

“The food and beverage side is what we’re all about,” Bogert said.

Bogert co-founded The Social Order, the restaurant group behind Texadelphia, Fuzzy’s Tacos Shop, and the Norman-based Seven47. He and Colton have been friends for years. Bogert’s dad was Colton’s football coach. Bogert and Colton had talked about having a music venue for a long time. After a visit to Dallas’ The Green Room, which is a high-rated restaurant and music venue, the pair said that’s what they wanted to bring to Oklahoma City.

Sanger said she’s bringing her Le Cordon Bleu background and using it to add elevation to Midwestern classic dishes.

“We have some items that are pushing the limit, but we think they’re still approachable and people will try out of curiosity,” she said.

Born in Oklahoma City, Sanger said she’s excited to return to a fun time in her native town, where people are getting to try a variety of cuisines. She previously worked at Lakewood Art House in Boston, where she learned how to serve more than 200 people every night.

With France and the east coast in her repertoire, she said she’ll be able to set her dishes apart from other menus.

“I think we’re really setting a new bar as far as the different types of cuisines we’re combining into one menu,” she said.

The price point is still being decided, but Sanger said a burger will be about $11 and the starters about $9.

“We want to keep everything reasonable so people will come, love what they taste, come back, and bring their friends,” she said.

But getting to The Jones Assembly is difficult because of road closures. That wasn’t part of the original opening schedule, Bogert said. The neighboring West Residences’ construction plan was originally ahead of The Jones Assembly’s. Then, the West Residence’s work was delayed. Bogert said the partners thought they could open in the fall. Yet, Sheridan Avenue closed in March.

The salaried managing staff had been hired already, so they were eager for The Jones to open as well. Nearly everyone that was hired stayed around and was able to get additional training, such as sommelier classes.

Besides hiring people for an unopen restaurant, focusing on food and beverage meant the building needed a kitchen. An original concept for The Jones Assembly called for an Airstream trailer with a small kitchen that would provide the food.

But then the partners realized they needed a full kitchen. Sanger said she combined the best of her past kitchens to create a space that’s perfect for getting the food efficiently to the guests.

“It was a bigger bet, but it was a no-brainer,” Bogert said.

With millions invested in the renovation, Bogert said the group knows there’s a lot at risk. He’s partnered with a bank that’s supported his projects in the past.

“We wouldn’t take this risk if we didn’t think it was something the city needed,” he said.

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