All aboard

A group of Tulsans is introducing residents to a new type of transportation.



Business partners Dan Smolen, Oleg Roytman, David Warta and Don Smolen purchased two 1978 double-decker buses in July 2012 and have refurbished them to create a charter, tour and transit company.

Cheyenne Bus Co. started with a snow cone.

Tulsa attorney Dan Smolen and his family were en route to a snow cone stand when he saw a double-decker bus, looming large over everything else in a roadside junkyard.

Perhaps because the icy, summery treats were on his mind, Dan “became obsessed” with the idea of opening a snow cone stand out of a restored double-decker bus.

He brought the idea to his business partners Donnie Smolen (Dan’s brother), David Warta and Oleg Roytman, but the bus idea was met with more enthusiasm than the snow cones.

“We came up with all these ways you could use a really cool double-decker bus,” Donnie says. “Kids’ birthday parties, architectural tours, catered dinners, tailgates, wine tasting, speed dating ...”

And so, the snow cone stand dissolved into a charter, tour and transit bus company.

The partners purchased two 1978 Bristol VRTs in July 2012. The buses were driven to Tulsa from Minnesota at what was then their maximum speed of 38 miles per hour — without air conditioning.

“No mechanic wanted to take on these buses,” Dan says. “Eventually we were referred to this company in Claremore called Anderson Classics and Kustoms.”

There, owner Jason Anderson and his team completed all the needed body, paint and upholstery work.

When it was time to address the mechanical work, the group got lucky with another local referral.

“We called four different states to put heat and air in these things,” Dan says. “Everyone in every state referred us back to KenKool Inc. right here in Tulsa.”

Both buses were originally used for public transportation in London, but after all the Tulsa-area renovation work, Dan says, “They are definitely Oklahoma buses now.”

The double-deckers are strikingly tall at 13 feet, 8 inches.

“There’s a bridge on Riverside that is 13 feet, 10 inches,” Donnie says. “Sitting on top of the bus, watching yourself come at that bridge looks pretty weird.”

“But the height is one of the differences between this and a limo,” Warta says. “You can actually stand up on both floors.”

The buses have been restored to honor their original style with custom leather upholstery and woodwork. In true double-decker fashion, the driver’s seat is on the right side of the bus.

At the back, Dan opens a compartment to reveal a huge, impossibly shiny diesel engine.

“They still make engines like this,” he says, “but now they put them in yachts.”

Eric Fransen, the carpenter who did most of the buses’ woodwork, says the renovation process has “been organic because we have been out on the bus using it. On purpose, we would sit in different seats and think about drink trays and dance parties.”

Laura Smolen, Dan’s wife, is the company’s lead designer. She says, “The buses have a retro, classic feel. Most other buses we’ve seen have the poles and crazy lights. No one has redone them like we have.”

However, the buses have been updated for today’s party needs. They boast Wi-Fi, lounge seating for 60, flat screen TVs, large-scale power generators, a window-rattling sound system and a wood veneer bar.

Joe Chadwick of KenKool Inc. worked hard to make sure riders would be comfortable despite  Oklahoma weather.

“It took about a month of research to find products that would work” on buses this size, he says. But now, “there’s enough air conditioning on this bus for two very good-sized houses.”

The double-deckers are kept in a warehouse on North Cheyenne Avenue in the Brady Arts District. From this base, partygoers can park and ride to events across Oklahoma.

In addition to rentals, the partners plan to make each bus available for a Monday-Friday lunch route, connecting the downtown business district to Cherry Street and Brady Arts District restaurants. The buses will offer pay-per-ride services and run a loop, allowing riders to be at any point on the route within 15 minutes.

“One thing I love about Tulsa is that, especially in the last few years, it seems like there are more young people getting invested in the ommunity,” Laura says. “It feels fun to contribute to what’s going on in Tulsa.”

From bachelorette parties to a child’s 6th birthday, Cheyenne Bus Co. rides in style.

Perhaps you could even take it for a snow cone.

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May 2018

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Tulsa Botanic Garden
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FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
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Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 191-829-63474
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It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

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10901 South Yale Ave
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3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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7777 S Lewis Ave
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Telephone: 918-352-6091
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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

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Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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Throughout the show, Tommy Terrific explores Armstrong's fascinating life and numerous accomplishments. This very interactive show is great educational entertainment for children of all...

Cost: Free

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41st and Riverside
400 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
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3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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Telephone: 918-289-0330
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41st and Riverside Plaza
4100 S. Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Friends of the Helmerich Library
Telephone: 918-596-2001
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
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Mabee Center
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Cost: FREE

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Invictus Healthcare System
9709 East 79th Street
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Sponsor: Invictus Healthcare System
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A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

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Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Telephone: 918-495-6000
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More information

Break the rules of conventional museums at the third annual Please Touch the Art exhibit. Mark your calendars for the opening reception Friday, June 1 from 5 - 9 p.m., in conjunction with the Tulsa...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

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Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108 Contemporary
Telephone: 918-895-6302
Website »

More information

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Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

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Come join us at the 2018 Take Me Fishing Day with Tess and Lacey from News on 6 at the Broken Arrow Events Park near NSU. This fun and family-friendly fishing event will have goodies for the first...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Broken Arrow Events Park
21101 East 101st Street
Broken Arrow , OK  74014
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More information

Make some great memories with your kids at the annual Take Me Fishing Event by Zebco on Saturday, June 2, 7AM - Noon. It's free, fun, and family-friendly. Located at 4 Tulsa area parks---...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mohawk, LaFortune, Veterans-Jenks, BA Events Park
Mohawk Park-East Side Pond; LaFortune Park-51st / Hudson St.; Veterans Park-Jenks; BA Events Park-21101 E. 101st St.
4 Tulsa Area Parks , OK
View map »


Sponsor: Zebco
Telephone: 1-800-494-3224
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Listen to the stories from the borderlands as Underwood leads an artist talk about her inspirations, creations, and travels. As she shares the voices of her indigenous ancestors, she will discuss...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108 Contemporary
Website »

More information

Break the rules of conventional museums at the third annual Please Touch the Art exhibit. Mark your calendars for the opening reception Friday, June 1 from 5 - 9 p.m., in conjunction with the Tulsa...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

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