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Q&A with Bar K's Dave Hensley: 'So many things happening'
Editor’s note: Bar K, the first private development in the Boathouse District, recently began construction of their unique dog park, bar, restaurant and event space concept on three acres near the Oklahoma River alongside the Whitewater Center. Greater OKC Chamber members Rose Rock Development Partners and Pivot Project are co-developing the project, with Chamber member Miller-Tippens Construction constructing and Chamber member Oklahoma State Bank financing. Founding partner David Hensley graciously sat down with VeloCityOKC for a quick update on the project.
VeloCityOKC: First, I’d like to hear a little bit about yourself and your background and just how you ended up in this business in general.
David Hensley: I grew up around Wichita. My family, we always had dogs, but I wouldn't say we were that different than most families who had dogs back then. They spent as much time in the backyard as they did inside and they rarely went anywhere with us. I went to school in Kansas and then graduated and I worked in medical and pharmaceutical sales for 12, 13 years. So while I was in Kansas City working in pharmaceutical sales, I had met my business partner through a mutual friend and we had become friends. We had big group that would hang out and do social things together, grab coffee, beers, go to restaurants.
But by a sheer coincidence, on the same weekend, he and I got our dogs. We hadn't once talked about it. I was coming back from picking up my dog, and I called him and said, “Hey, you gotta meet my dog.” And he said, “You gotta be kidding me!” He had just adopted a dog that day as well. So that sort of set us on a separate path where now we started going to dog parks, trying to bring our dogs with us to restaurants, coffee shops, bars, sitting on the patios. And it doesn't take long when you do that, that you realize that that's not the best experience for dogs. Then when you go to the dog parks, you realize that, while they're fun, it's not always the best experience for the humans. And there's also no gatekeeper, so sometimes you never know what you're going to get.
Right. It probably can get a little hairy, so to speak.
So that's when we started thinking, hey, what if we combine these concepts of a dog park and a bar and a restaurant, and really make a community meeting place for people, and their dogs – and that’s where the idea for Bar K came from.
"When we first came to visit and we didn't know what to expect, we just found that [OKC] had this energy of entrepreneurship and growth and movement in a positive direction – you just look around and you see the different vibrant neighborhoods and you see different developments popping up."