Kent Berry and Chadwick Breedlove had been recruited to launch a coffeehouse across the street from Church Studio. They loved the idea, but they were apprehensive about banking their futures on coffee alone.
“I’ve known Teresa Knox, who owns Church Studio, for about eight years, and she has been active in renovating this part of the Pearl District called Studio Row,” Berry said. “She said she wanted a coffee shop where people could hang out, and if musicians were recording across the street, a place they could hang out, too.
“We figured coffee itself wouldn’t support this business, so we worked on hybrid concepts.”
What they did was add a full bar; Breedlove had been a bartender for 24 years. Then Breedlove started working on developing a menu and getting a full kitchen up and running. Together, they worked on the ambience of their cozy space, rooted in local music in general and Leon Russell in particular.
The four-pronged plan — coffee, alcohol, food, ambience — all came together recently when the full menu was launched.
“I had taken some culinary classes, but I never had worked in a professional kitchen,” Breedlove said. “I practiced a lot at home and cook it all from scratch. It seems to be going over pretty well.”
It went over well with our group of seven when we stopped by recently for a Sunday brunch. The Coffee Blues serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday and brunch Saturday-Sunday.
Several people at our table ordered the Bluebird Hash ($10), and each went away happy. The mix of potatoes, eggs, sausage, grilled onions and bell peppers were topped with cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and the restaurant’s signature Dammit Janet sauce, a smooth poblano cream sauce.
Jalapenos may be added on request. A grandson made the request, and he said the jalapenos tasted fresh and were mild and full of flavor, a worthwhile addition to the dish.
As popular as the Bluebird Hash was, I leaned toward my order of coconut cream-stuffed French toast. Thick challah bread had a sizable filling of coconut cream cheese and was topped with powdered sugar, coconut, strawberries and bruleed bananas. Maple syrup came on the side.
I’m usually not big on raw or roasted coconut. I think it’s the texture that bothers me, but this dish had a light sprinkling and the coconut was tender and didn’t take anything away from the overall flavor.
One person ordered the S.O.S. ($6). Unless things have changed a whole lot, Army folks going back many decades know what that stands for. In this case, it was Texas toast topped with house-made sausage gravy, and it was delicious.
Most of the brunch entrees we had were served sizzling in cast-iron skillets on wood platters.
A couple of people shared the Bottle O’ Bubbles & Juice ($12), which turned out to be a bargain. Our server and bartender, Natalie, brought a bottle of Elysee sparkling wine from France (not expensive sparkling wine but not the least expensive, either), containers of orange juice and two empty glasses. She poured the first glasses to give an indication of the juice-wine ratio, and the remainder was left to us.
In addition to its line of coffee drinks, cocktails also are a specialty at The Coffee Blues. I can vouch for the refreshing CBCS (vodka, muddled fruit, organic triple sec and Sprite) and the Rusty Kentucky (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Canton ginger liqueur, mint-infused simple syrup and pineapple juice).
“We make all of our mixes, juices, pico and sauces ourselves,” Breedlove said. “We also use as many natural products that we can.”
The dining room seats about 50. A dog-friendly back patio space will seat an additional 20 when it opens in a few weeks. The Coffee Blues has street parking in front and a lot in back.
Walls are decorated mostly with Russell memorabilia. Most impressive is a large painting of Russell by local artist Chris Mantle. A concert poster caught my eye. Russell headlined a summer show at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Racetrack that included Freddie King, JJ Cale and Willis Ramsey (he went by his full name, including his middle name, Alan, which inexplicably was omitted). It didn’t show what year it was, but tickets were $4.50 in advance and $5.50 at the gate. Can you imagine?
“Chad and I are not bar people, so we tried to create a place where we would like to hang out ourselves,” Berry said. “There are no TVs for a reason. Just come in and enjoy the music and have some food, a cocktail or coffee and conversation with friends.”