Stella Modern Italian Cuisine: OKCityCard Featured Partner

**Join Stella Monday, May 21st at 7pm for a Round Pond Estate 4-Course Wine Dinner. Make your reservation by Saturday, May 19th at 5pm by calling 405-235-2200. Mention “Allied Arts” at dinner for the organization to receive a portion of proceeds.**

Today’s featured partner is Stella Modern Italian Cuisine, a staple of Midtown OKC run by creative and community-oriented Lori Burson. Stella thrives through a focus on fine cuisine, superb wine, and a neighborhood atmosphere. 

Stella Building Front

Lori, you were inspired to create Stella’s concept after studying in Rome during college. What attracted you to the restaurant industry?

I graduated from the University of Dallas, and at first, the industry was a big part of the way I paid for college. I studied and enjoyed psychology, but when I finished school I decided I wanted to focus on my passion of food and wine.

Community and the arts are developing an increasing importance in Oklahoma City. How do you work to bring these two elements together?

I had been in the industry for a long time in OKC and then took a break before opening Stella, doing lots of community work for organizations such as Oklahoma Contemporary, the American Red Cross, Oklahoma City Ballet, and the YMCA. I try to choose nonprofits that I have a personal interest in. My degree was in art before I switched to psychology in college, so I lean toward supporting the arts.

As a business owner, I realize that as larger companies look at our city to move and expand, they look at what we have to offer. One aspect is our impact on future generations, so I love to support nonprofits that offer programs for youth education.

Can you tell us about your favorite experiences serving the community?

I have loved supporting Arts Council Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts for several years. The experience of being downtown and working hand-in-hand with the artists, whether covering a booth or assisting with other event needs, is important. This year, I I’m serving as a chair of Oklahoma Contemporary’s fundraiser, “The Art of Brunch,” which will take place Saturday, June 16th in Campbell Art Park. 

My experiences with community organizations have changed through the years to adapt to my career changes. When I was taking time off before creating Stella, I was able to focus totally on volunteer work. Now that I own my own restaurant, my hours are fewer, so I can’t do as much hands-on support. Now I try to support the community through my restaurant in the ways that I can.

Stella Photo

 What are your favorite dishes at Stella?

Our menu changes frequently, so it really depends on the day. I get obsessed with certain seasonal entrées and so I try to enjoy them as often as possible before the menu changes again to a new season. [Check out their current dinner menu HERE.]

What do the arts mean to you? Why are they important for our community?

I mentioned that the arts help to attract new businesses and bring larger ones to our city. Arts organizations also work to keep elements of art and culture around us, which helps to enhance all of our lives. Stella offered its first season of Arts on the Patio last year, and we look forward to bringing it back with live local music on Thursdays starting after Memorial Day. We’ll also bring in a new feature of live music on Saturdays during brunch.

Why do you support Allied Arts through participation in the OKCityCard Partnership?

Because of the quality of the products that we serve, Stella does not offer coupons or promotions. The OKCityCard Partner offer is only one of two ways that you can get a discount at the restaurant. That is because we believe in supporting the arts and helping to bring business to local establishments.

Stella is located in Midtown at 1201 N Walker Ave, OKC 73103. You can reach them at (405) 235-2200 and on the website at www.stella-okc.com. Follow them on social @stellaokc. Stella offers 15% off up to 2 lunch entrées with your OKCityCard. Stella Photo 2

Junction Coffee: OKCityCard Featured Partner

Our featured partner this week is Junction Coffee, a creative, charming, and community-oriented coffee shop housed in a double-decker bus and owned by husband-wife team Nick and Lori Bollinger. 

We visited the mobile shop stopped at Kerr Park in downtown OKC to chat with Nick about the bus, the business, and his thoughts on creativity and community. 

IMG_7235

You and Lori started out as youth pastors in Oklahoma City. How did you become inspired to start Junction Coffee?

As youth pastors, we valued the relationships that could be built through worship. Our original idea was to start a brick-and-mortar coffee shop because we felt inspired to create a space that could foster a similar expression through a neutral platform that appealed to all walks of life. We envisioned a coffee business that could make people feel comfortable, valued, important, and loved, and realized that a mobile shop was a more responsible financial undertaking. Around that time, we came across a double-decker bus at a mechanic’s shop on West Reno. The mechanic, who had been trained overseas, connected us to a company based out of the UK that located a bus and helped us ship it over. 

IMG_7240.JPG
The double-decker can drive up to 45 mph

What drives your enthusiasm as entrepreneurs?

It is really fun. Also, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves through the experience. While Lori likes a little more structure, I thrive on situations that involve borderline chaos. To have an occupation that is fluid on a daily basis is exciting. For example, I found out this morning that there was a bolt that had broken on the bus engine, so I’ve been running around opening up bus panels to fix the issue. I get a little bit giddy when there is a new challenge or new puzzle to fix.

IMG_7247.JPG
Level 2 is perfect for relaxing with coffee and friends

How do you select your coffee offerings?

When we started, we wanted to make sure that we supported Oklahoma businesses as much as we could instead of bringing coffees in from other parts of the country. Because we value good relationships, we tend to favor local roasters that also value this. And, since our bus moves to different locations, our base menu is kept consistent to stay anchored for our customers. We have great relationships with Mariposa, EÔTÉ, and also have a great relationship with our Civic Center location. This helps us support local businesses, serve a great product, and foster relationships with good friends. 

View of the kitchen area.JPG
View of the bus kitchen

Why do you think the arts are important for our community?

For one thing, if nothing were different, everything would be the same. That seems simple, but fostering creativity and artistic expression in multiple ways adds depth to the human experience and helps us understand how we connect with one another. There is a broad spectrum, and if we confine it to one outlet, we miss ways to appreciate beauty and to learn how we can better ourselves.

Recently, Lori and I were excited to buy our first piece of art together at an auction for Jubilee Partners nonprofit. We were thrilled and talked about it for hours. The artist captured an intimate moment of a performer backstage resting after an exhausting number and it is beautiful and effective. 

Junction Coffee is typically parked at the Civic Center Music Hall on Tuesdays, St. Anthony’s Hospital (9th and Walker) on Wednesdays, Kerr Park (R.S. Kerr & Broadway) on Thursdays, and 5th and Broadway on Fridays. You can always check their schedule via social media, and can even sign up for text or email updates HERE.

The mobile coffee shop offers a buy 1 drink, get 1 half off offer with your OKCityCard. 

IMG_7250.JPG
You can find info about the double-decker’s origins on level 2
Junction Coffee_with Owner Nick Bollinger.JPG
Owner Nick Bollinger and Allied Arts Staffer Laura Cunningham

 

OKCityCard Featured Partner: Painted Door

Painted Door Front Door Cropped
Entrance of Painted Door on Sheridan Avenue

Our featured partner this week is Painted Door, Oklahoma City’s premiere boutique in Bricktown. Our OKCityCard Coordinator visited the shop to learn more about its pioneering owner and long-time appeal. 

Owner and visionary Avis Scaramucci entered her boutique to greet Allied Arts staff with a crisp white shirt and black puffer vest, hounds tooth slacks, and an enthusiasm for her shop that was contagious. Her right-hand gals, long-time shop creatives Tonia Cook and June Martinez, were organizing new items from market at the front desk and helping customers celebrate “Gal-entine’s Day,” a pre-Valentine’s Day ritual where women can come in and shop for their friends. Painted Door, a boutique at the corner of Sheridan Avenue and Mickey Mantle Drive in Bricktown that specializes in fashion, gifts, and accessories, is a 27-year staple of the Oklahoma City community.

IMG_7216
The Sorrelli Jewelry Case

While her shop finds its roots at the heart of Oklahoma City and its blossoming community, Ms. Scaramucci and her team thrive on bringing fresh variety to Painted Door, always with the tastes and desires of visitors in mind. More than 250 vendors are represented by the store’s offerings. It’s currently market season, and staff enjoys browsing merchant wares in Dallas, Atlanta, and New York to find beautiful, innovative items. During a shop tour, Avis shared her memory of one visit to Atlanta when she first discovered the handcrafted Sorrelli jewelry line. While browsing at market, she encountered a woman dressed in “a simple collared shirt and slacks with a large statement Sorrelli necklace.” The juxtaposition of simple and extravagant immediately attracted her to the line. 

IMG_7215
The Newly-Remodeled Kitchen

In 2016, Ms. Scaramucci remodeled the front of her shop, adding showroom windows to display brand-new and seasonal fashion and gifts, as well as a full kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, stove, and oven to allow customers to sample the many foods and party mixes sold by the store. Items include taste sensations such as maple bacon onion jam, dill ranch crackers, and premium party dips. “Sometimes I like to change up the recipes from the way they are listed for tastings. The kitchen allows customers to taste items before they purchase them, and perhaps learn a different way to make them.”

 

IMG_7220.JPG
A Valentine’s Day Display

This desire to spark artful creativity in her patrons extends to all of her products. “We like to form an experience for our customers. We try to put unexpected items together in the store to help inspire their own creative styles and ideas.”

IMG_7218.JPG
Toothfairy Mouse Toys by Maileg

One of the most endearing elements of the shop tour was her presentation of the many unique gifts for babies, children, and the young at heart. With the excitement of a kid in a candy store, Ms. Scaramucci displayed items such as charming stuffed animals created by the London-based toy maker, Jellycat, delicate handmade fairy tale characters created by the Swedish company, Maileg, and a new book arrival, Night-Night Oklahoma by English author Katherine Sully.

As an Oklahoma City entrepreneur since 1991, Ms. Scaramucci has seen the community undergo numerous changes, enhanced by strong city leadership, the MAPS initiatives, and the revitalization of Bricktown’s hotel, restaurant and entertainment district. “In 1991, this was a city without a heart. It grew and we have a true community that I love to be a part of.” An avid volunteer and community supporter, she finds the arts to be a vital outlet for expression, and Allied Arts as critical in providing a central point for facilitating support. Painted Door helps to fulfill the needs of her patrons and her city by creating an eclectic and comforting environment for expression.

 

IMG_7214.JPG
Owner Avis Scaramucci and OKCityCard Coordinator Laura Cunningham

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Painted Door is located in Bricktown at 124 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73104. You can reach them at 405.235.4410 and on their website at www.painteddoor.com. The shop offers 15% off purchase price with your OKCityCard.

IMG_7213.JPG
An Assortment of Local Gifts
IMG_7222.JPG
Old World Christmas Ornaments
IMG_7224.JPG
A View of the Shop
__________________________________________________________________________________By: Laura Cunningham____