On Sundays (ok, really it isn’t EVERY Sunday but we do try to make it a weekly thing), a group of us and our families meet at Arcadia Lake in Edmond for coffee and trail time. The organizer of this whole deal is my good friend Josh McCullock. Yesterday, as we were slow rolling at the vans getting ready to go ride a lady was talking to Josh and mentioned his office in The Plaza District.
All of that to say….
I woke up last night with this strange thought that I have never told you about 1708 – our little shared office / studio space in OKC’s Plaza District that we called home for Cafe Evoke Catering back when we first moved it from Bozeman to Oklahoma City. Man! You’d think being such a big part of the future success of Jenni and my little coffee company that I’d have mentioned it before.
Well, back in 2008, we had just moved to Oklahoma City and had launched the newest version of Cafe Evoke Catering – “Oklahoma’s premier specialty coffee catering company”. We had been poking our heads around the Plaza District for weeks meeting with former director Susan Hogan and also Jeff Struble about a cafe spot and more.
I remember Susan walking us around the Plaza District telling us all about the history and upswing this 16th Street neighborhood was having… how Lyric Theatre was doing so well after reopening.. We were sitting at Plaza Java (RIP) looking out over the large sidewalks.. Outside and just to the east was a large building being reborn and reconstructed. She told me a developer named Jeff Struble was reworking the space and wanted a coffee / food spot on the corner of 16th and Gatewood.
I loved the vision she was illustrating for me and honestly felt like this could be the place for EVOKE. We finished coffee and crossed the street. We met Jeff in this space as he was working and talked about how he really was going all in with the Plaza District and how it was going to be the next best place in Oklahoma City – echoing Susan like they had planned it!
The Plaza was budding at best. We had friends there already that were doing a killer job promoting this community and (unknowingly) tempting us to join them and call 16th Street home. DNA Galleries and Collected Thread were mainstays for us in those days and we knew being across the street would be a good win for us.
I talked to Jeff several times over the coming weeks.. maybe months.. and just could not figure out how we could make that space happen. He finally got a few “studios” completed.. two that were live / work spaces right on 16th and I was very interested in making one of those an office spot for EVOKE.
We just could not commit to a lease rate they he wanted and as we continued to talk, he mentioned that a photographer and he thought another person, an event planner, were also interested and that maybe we could all go in on it together. A joint lease / partnership sort of thing.
Hm.. I wasn’t every super comfortable with these sort of puzzles but I knew we could do great things in that space. All it was going to take was a conversation with some guy I didn’t know and had never really heard of…. It had to happen.
So we did it – but it took a quick meeting over pizza with my now great friend Josh to get things rolling.
My phone rang before I even had a chance to make that call.. Josh called ME out of the blue because he had heard that we were both looking for “studio” space in the Plaza (Jeff was quite the match maker it seems). He thought it’d be a good thing for us to share a space (you know, share rent and that sort of thing, too!). He had another pal, the great Lindsay Gibson, who also was looking so the three of us said Hell Yes!
( Just for fun: Here is a quick piece we did in the Oklahoman back in 2011…)
We launched that space weeks later after some quick work to make it feel like home.
It was maybe one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a business owner and I think back on those times as often as possible. We did so many things that I will never forget..
…interviews about our stolen EVOKE trailer.
..played host to Table One – a private dinner concept by Chef Parrot and Stranger amongst others
..Free Coffee Monday
..Live on the Plaza events
..live music nights
..countless even planning parties
..a Thanksgiving Day window bash that left us TV and Nintendo Wii – less
..we hosted private parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, birthdays, small groups, art openings
..Gary V hosted a wine lunch there
..got voted OKC’s Best New Service Business by the Gazette
The list goes one! What a time we had with such great friends during those early OKC days for us and EVOKE. It was a time in our city that was truly special and the opportunity felt endless.
Did you ever make it to 1708? I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.