Elote in la Noche

In late February, Tulsans will have a fresh reason to head downtown for dinner.
Elote Cafe and Catering owners Libby and Jeremy Auld are tackling the permitting and liquor licensing processes in planning a post-Valentine’s Day debut of a dinner service and full bar at the restaurant. The cafe is slated to keep evening hours Tuesday-Saturday starting in late February. Hours will extend to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and until 10 p.m. on weekend nights.
Elote Cafe, which opened last June, is nestled in the space that formerly housed Tulsa landmark Nelson’s Buffeteria at 514 S. Boston Ave. The caf√? offers authentic Mexican-inspired dishes with a contemporary edge and are prepared with the green lifestyle in mind. The average ticket at Elote Cafe rates about $6.
“I thought we would just be a Monday-Friday spot with pedestrian traffic,” said native Tulsan Libby Auld, chef at Elote Cafe. “But, we’ve really become a destination spot for people who like to eat local food and who appreciate that we take their health into consideration when we prepare their food.”
Auld thought opening in the evenings would simply be a matter of extending hours, hiring more people and procuring a liquor license.
“We thought it was going to be easier than it has been,” she said. “Getting the liquor license is a process. In running a small business, it’s hard to find the time to get all of the permit stuff done.”
In addition to allowing for the period required to process permit and liquor license applications, the Aulds aim to start staying up later February because “that’s kind of a slow period, so we’ll be able to get our staff trained well,” Libby Auld said. “Then, come Spring Break time when the weather gets nice and people are eating out and spending money again, we’ll be ready to go.”
Wait service will be available in the evenings, while lunch customers will continue to order diner-style at the register before seating themselves. The dinner menu, which will resemble the lunch menu and will feature new, larger items with an upscale edge, is still in the works.
“Every single day I have people asking me when we’ll be able to open in the evenings and on the weekends,” said Justin McKean, Auld’s assistant at Elote. “It’s exciting, too, to be part of the revitalization of downtown. It’s like spring. Up through the snow come these little plants that are thriving and herald more to come.”
“We’re pretty busy. We don’t have any parking spots open at lunchtime – not even one,” Auld said. “But, we draw a clientele that is interested in fresh, healthful foods, and these people don’t mind parking a block and a half away and walking to us.”
The space adjacent to Elote Caf√? and Catering in the Thompson Building along Boston Avenue “is our dream bar,” Auld said. “When that day comes, the bar will be open late nights.”
Auld’s training includes a stint in Chicago under Oklahoma City-born Rick Bayless, widely acknowledged as the top chef of authentic Mexican cuisine in the U.S. and the recipient of several commendations from the James Beard Foundation.
Auld also plans to host a booth featuring Elote Caf√? and Catering at the Saturday morning Cherry Street Farmers Market starting this spring.
Apple Gold Group, franchisee of Applebee’s restaurants in Oklahoma, Arkansas and North Carolina, announced that its Central Oklahoma, Tulsa and Arkansas affiliates raised more than $14,000 as part of the company’s annual fundraisers for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The charity drive ran throughout September and October in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Guests who dined at any of the 21 Apple Gold Group Applebee’s locations in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the fundraiser had the opportunity to donate.

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