A catering kitchen led by Tulsa chef Justin Thompson and a medical imaging company will be tenants of a roughly $5 million, mixed-used development going up on the east side of Lewis Avenue near 11th street, an investor said.
Headed by Chris Ellison and his wife, Elizabeth Frame Ellison, Fernweh Shops is a one-acre, two-building project just east of Mother Road Market. Fernweh is a Germanic word associated with wanderlust and the desire or love of travel.
Elizabeth Ellison is president of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, which powered the $5.5 million Mother Road Market, which opened in October. But Fernweh Shops, which could be completed in May, is not associated with the foundation, Chris Ellison said.
“My wife and I are partners, and we just really believe in the area, and therefore we made the decision to personally invest,” he said in an email. “It is easy to say you believe in something, but it gets very real once you obligate yourself to substantial personal financial risk.
The Ellisons also are partners in the Fuel 66 Food and Beer Garden, which is nearby and opened in late 2016.
“We are committed,” he said. “I actually went to college just a few blocks away at the University of Tulsa, and my children used to attend University School nearby. I spent my early life-changing years in this area.”
Each of the two buildings will encompass about 6,875 square feet and feature storefront-style glass. They will be separated by roughly 15 feet of patio space. Dark bricks will cover all sides of the structures, and parking will be to the east.
“The buildings will have excellent visibility from the 11th and Lewis intersection, and because of this proximity to Route 66 and being across the street from the Mother Road Market, we are incorporating a few subtle touches to continue to support Tulsa in its endeavor to rehabilitate the mother road and affirm Tulsa’s connection to the creation and use of Route 66,” Chris Ellison said.
Restaurateur Justin Thompson of the Justin Thompson Restaurant Group will occupy two of the four units in the north building for his new catering kitchen and executive offices, Chris Ellison said.
Besides heading the restaurant group, Thompson is co-owner of Farrell Family Bakery and author of “Trial & Error: Recipes and Lessons Learned by a Chef & Restaurateur.” Founded in 2011 with the opening of Juniper Restaurant, Thompson’s company now has under its umbrella PRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse, Tavolo, An Italian Bistro, and 624 Catering and Events. Two years ago, he added MixCo Bar as a full-time management and consulting client.
“I have known Justin for about 10 years now, ever since he catered my wedding in 2009,” Chris Ellison said. “I like to think that these offices will serve as Justin’s war room as he continues to build his culinary empire.”
Ellison is seeking to lease the other two units in the north facility. The south building will be home to Touchstone Imaging Midtown, a national provider of diagnostic imaging services, he said.