When Philip Phillips and his wife, Danielle, started their Lone Wolf food truck in 2012, he said one person guided them, veteran restaurateur Jim Bausch of Andolini’s Pizzeria.
Now, as tenants of Mother Road Market, the couple has the support of an entire cooking community.
“We were very fortunate; starting off, it’s incredibly difficult,” said Philip Phillips, whose start-up Chicken and the Wolf will help introduce spicy Nashville chicken to Tulsa. “So to have a place like this where you have Kitchen 66, an incubator where you come in and actually learn how to run a business, is worth its weight in gold.
“It’s absolutely incredible. I would have died to have that six years ago when we started Lone Wolf.”
Mother Road Market, a 27,000-square-foot collective of about 20 eateries and retail shops, held its grand opening Friday. A development of the nonprofit Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation and located along Route 66, the $5.5 million facility is housed in the renovated 1939 Scrivner-Stevens Grocery building.
Herself a former struggling cupcake baker, LTFF CEO Elizabeth Frame Ellison called Mother Road Market a dream come true.
“While many of the food halls you see around the country are for-profit developments, the secret sauce in Mother Road Market is its ability to leverage nonprofit programming and partnerships to give Tulsa a place to find community and food,” she said. “We curated our merchants in this food hall with a mix of established businesses who could both draw customers in the space and also serve as mentors alongside start-up businesses so we could all learn from each other.”
The complex features everything from sliced pizza and coconut shrimp to barbecue, with cookie and ice cream shops for dessert. Outdoors is a 8,100-square-foot patio with a view of the Tulsa skyline.
“This project means a lot to the city of Tulsa,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “It means a lot because it aligns with what we’re trying to accomplish in the city. We are trying to make Tulsa a great place for entrepreneurs, and one of the gateways for serial entrepreneurship is through restaurants.
“Being able to open them and having a place that fosters that type of risk-taking helps people test out an idea, helps them lean on one another as they develop their ideas and improve upon them. That’s what Mother Road is about.”
Bynum said MRM is a new Route 66 landmark that will draw visitors into the core of the city.
“We believe this investment will spur other investments on the Mother Road,” said Ellison’s mother, Kathy Taylor, one of the co-founders of LTFF. “It will revitalize nearby neighborhoods and bring tourists from around the world to experience Tulsa and the magic of Route 66.”