Bringing the Glory Back

Hand-cut steaks, housemade pate, chicken fried steak and handcrafted chocolate desserts. Each of these foodie delights will be available at the renewed Mayo Hotel, in downtown Tulsa at Fifth Street and Cheyenne Avenue.
The executive chef at the reborn Mayo is Neall Bailey, who comes to Tulsa from the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. Bailey, who has worked with Michelin-starred chefs in kitchens from Switzerland to Italy to New Orleans, along with a staff hired away from some of the most prestigious hotels and event centers in the country, will bring on the edibles as the hotel says to Tulsa, “Hello again – no, really, we mean it this time.”
Food lovers can get their first taste of what chef Bailey has to offer late this month when the doors of Trula, the fine dining restaurant still under construction on the southwest side of the ground floor of the boutique hotel, open to the public.
Kitchen construction is in the final phases. The chandeliers are hung, the walls are half-painted and the bar will be outfitted with granite within the next few days.
The restaurant was named for Trula Austin, a fixture in the hotel during its heyday and the resident who, for longer than any other Mayo dweller, lived in the hotel, for a total of about 25 years.
The menu, under construction since early July, is being built around food that Bailey promised would be “accessible, locally driven and reasonably priced.”
“We’re buying beef from local ranchers and pork and chicken from nearby farmers. Tulsa’s Farrell Family Bread will supply us with their artisan bread. We’ll smoke our own salmon and make our own pasta and more in-house. We want control of the food from start to finish. We’re going to take all this really good stuff and make it shine,” Bailey said.
The menu will star dishes from the annals of Oklahoma cuisine, from burgers and chicken fried steak to ribeyes, beef tenderloin and braised short ribs, all dressed up and ready to impress, as any meeting at the Mayo would require. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and will offer breakfast plates as well.
The 2,000-SF space, sporting an urban, industrial-chic design starring artifacts of the rescued Mayo (including a boiler plate integrated into the bar and dining room), will seat about 80, with more seating on the patio outside. Mark Hawley of Tulsa-based Hawley & Co., a contemporary furniture design shop, drew up the design for the restaurant.
Pricing the menu pricing was a balancing act of knowing and aiming to improve on what competitors are charging and the going rate for ingredients like ranch-cut beef untreated with hormones or antibiotics.
“That stuff comes at a premium,” Bailey said. “It’s expensive just for us to buy it. By the same token, we have several dinners priced $15-20, as well as several shared plates. We’ll have daily specials, too.”
Food service at the Mayo won’t stop at Trula. Guests in any of the 102 suites at the Mayo will be able to keep their full kitchens dark and cool and order room service from a menu distilled from the restaurant instead. Room service will be ready to go when the hotel opens mid-month.
One of the many perks of residing in one of the 76 lofts in the Mayo, along with housekeeping, valet laundry and personal shopping services, will be the freedom to live as a hotel guest, putting in orders for room service alongside the more temporary Mayo inhabitants.
The first nuptials to take place in the 16th-floor Crystal Ballroom since its renovation, an event for 300 scheduled for Oct. 3, will mark the debut of banquet and special event food service at the Mayo. The special event portion of the food service operation will serve as the icing on the cake in the nine wedding and meeting spaces offered at the Mayo, which accommodate up to 400 guests.
“This is a world-class offer,” Bailey said. “You could transfer the ballroom to anywhere in the world and it’d stand easily on its own. This is going to be the best hotel in the state.”
“When I saw that ballroom, I was convinced. I was on my way to Tulsa,” he added. “I grew up in Vancouver, and Tulsa is very much like Vancouver when I was a kid. It’s like a big city with all the amenities, but with that small-town feel. People wave and say hello here. In D.C., it’s all about the hustle and bustle. I feel more at home here.”
“Because of its location, the Willard Hotel was tied in with the development not just of Washington D.C., but with the development of the nation as a whole,” Bailey said. “The Mayo Hotel is just as integral to Tulsa.”
The food services staff at the Mayo will be comprised of some familiar faces, including that of Stephen Howard, principal at local sweet shop Kokoa Chocolatier. He was awarded the contract for pastries and desserts at the Mayo Hotel and at Trula.
“It’s great for me; I’m a pastry guy. This move will allow my company to focus on pastry and chocolate. I had fun doing food on Brookside, but I’m ready to get back to pastry,” Howard said.
“We’ll come up with some signature, show-stopper desserts that are all Mayo, all Stephen – a true partnership,” Bailey said. “His desserts are excellent. I’ve eaten desserts all over the world, but I was blown away when I went to KoKoa. He is a master at what he does.”
The Brookside location of KoKoa closed earlier this summer. Howard will be building and baking his desserts for the Mayo from the downtown location of KoKoa Chocolatier at 510 S. Boston Ave.
For the dessert menu at the Mayo, Howard is in the mood for “lots of seasonal fruit, and lots of chocolate.”
“The Mayo was quality,” Howard said. “It was beautiful statement of what Tulsa is all about, especially in its glory days. For Kokoa to be a part of that is thrilling.”
The Mayo Hotel, purchased for $250,000 in 2001 by the Snyder family, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The renovation project was awarded funding from the Vision 2025 initiative, passed by voters in 2003. The Mayo Hotel is a member of Summit Hotels & Resorts, as well as the Historic Hotels of America, a National Trust for Historic Preservation distinction.?

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