New ownership for Cafe EvokeCoffee among things keeping entrepreneurial couple busyEDMOND —2019 left Robert and Lori Black happy to have a nice place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee.

New ownership for Cafe EvokeCoffee among things keeping entrepreneurial couple busyEDMOND —2019 left Robert and Lori Black happy to have a nice place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Before El Guate’s announcement, Burger Pig shuttered at Parlor OKC. Local food truck veterans Smoked Out Barbecue and Mob Grill will fill the vacancies. Mob Grill owner Marco Morrow has built an audience serving classic fried-onion burgers. Smoked Out started in a truck, too, but also has a stationary kitchen at 6220 NW Expressway.

The Blacks took over Evoke in October, right around the time The Mule opened across the street. Edmond Railyard has gradually blossomed since then, too. By the end of spring, the historic strip of downtown will add Frenzy Brewing Company.

In the meantime, Robert is working on a new menu roll-out. “We’ve got some great items for breakfast and lunch,” he said. “But when you look at the menu, you see a disparity in lunch options so I’d like to balance that out.”

When I was in we sampled the Baked Eggs, Smoked Salmon Toast, Sunny Side Egg brunch toast and a Sweet Berry Yogurt Bowl. The toasts were served on hand-crafted boards created by Robert in his woodworking shop. Don’t ask him for any custom jobs this year. He’s not retired, he’s just not taking on a lot of new business. He said he still spends time in the workshop, but right now he’s telling people who ask to “check what he’s got in inventory.”

Once Robert gets the new menu settled, and Lori might start looking at Evoke for special events and special dinners. Cafe Evoke is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Black History Month Spotlight: Barbecue

For our final special focus on black culinary pioneers and current operators, we wander toward the smoke in search of fire. Barbecue fire. As mentioned above, Smoked Out Barbecue is making big moves. Owner Leroy Richardson drew on two generations of family recipes to open a food truck in early 2018 and add the restaurant that summer. Richardson joins new-school pitmasters like Chris Cornish (Cornish Smokehouse) and Owen Wilson Jr. (Big O’s Pork and Dreams), who hope we might some day remember them as we do do Leo Smith and Tom Norman.

Tom’s Barbecue opened in an old Colonial-style house in 1960 on the city’s east side. After it burned down in 1974, Tom and his wife Blanche moved the business into a modest building on NE 10 Street. Tom’s wood-smoked brisket, ribs and pork built him a strong reputation throughout the 1970s. The business outlived both Tom and Blanche, closing more than 10 years ago. When Tom first opened, Leo Smith was wearing the fancy red jacket of a waiter at The Cellar at Hightower, working on chef John Bennett’s staff.


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