When I was in high school with fellow Zebra Justin Michael, I never would have dreamed that 19 years later (now you know how old we are), we’d be sitting down talking about the plans for the revitalization of downtown Claremore.
The downtown district has gone through a drastic change over the past several years. With the boutique movement going strong, shops have been opening up and down Will Rogers Boulevard. And with the hiring of new Main Street director Jessica Jackson last summer, the future is looking bright.
Justin and his fiancee, Audrey Buck, are jumping into the Main Street way of life with both feet. It started with the June purchase of the long-vacant Twin Oaks Hotel. The Twin Oaks was built in 1929 and is a 3-story hotel located on the main drag. It’s the tallest building downtown, with the exception of the landmark Will Rogers Hotel. Its 45 (and three half) rooms were last used for lodging in the late 1960s. The first floor has been a variety of businesses, with the last being a pool hall about 15 years ago. Since then, the dust has settled and the towering structure has been left alone. Until now.
The couple has already begun renovation of the building, hauling off multiple loads of junk and trash. They are removing plaster, sweeping floors, and sweating buckets. The plan is to open a fine-dining establishment in downtown Claremore; the Twin Oaks restaurant is scheduled open in late 2017. The farm-to-table concept will be a new one for Claremore. There will be dinner service only, along with a full bar and wine pairings. A culinary expert will be hired to bring that “something special” to downtown. The goal is for the Twin Oaks to be a dining destination, not just for locals, but for all of the area, as well as Route 66 travelers.
The upper two floors will eventually be a boutique hotel with approximately 15 – 20 rooms. (While 45 sounds impressive, some of them are really, really small!)
In the meantime, Justin and Audrey are working on another business venture. Downtown Claremore has several fabulous boutiques for women, but what about the men? Enter The Haberdashery: A Gentleman’s Outfitter. With the relocation of The District on Main this fall, it’s the perfect opportunity for Justin and Audrey to move in and bring modern men’s apparel to Claremore. The shop will also carry leather goods and gifts. (The District is moving across the street to the former Nostalgia Nook location.)
Justin is a Claremore native. He was most recently employed at Baker Hughes as a project manager. He feels that everything he learned from that position gave him the skills and confidence to strike out on his own. With his involvement in Claremore Collective, and hearing what others would like to see in town, he knew this is what he wanted to do.
Audrey is a Tulsa native, and a professional equestrian trainer, rider, and coach. Over the 13 years of her career, she has lived on both coasts, and everywhere in between. Being exposed to so many cultures, she will bring fresh new ideas to both businesses.
Downtown Claremore is on the rise once again. We can’t wait to see what comes next!