75-year-old Cherry Street building has storied past
Located at East 15th Street and South Quaker Avenue, the building now houses Cafe Cubana and Mi Cocina.
The building at 1338 E. 15th St. in 1950.
Courtesy Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society
A building can have many lives and become a marker for shifting tastes and interests. The one at East 15th Street and South Quaker Avenue has changed hands many times in the past 75 years.
Sipes Food Market was among the building’s earliest tenants. A.H. Sipes founded his business in Oklahoma City in 1909 before bringing it to Tulsa in 1927, according to the TulsaGal website. Being among Oklahoma’s first self-service grocery stores, Sipes’ main selling points were its customer service and personal check cashing.
Opened in 1943, the 10,000-square-foot store at 1338 E. 15th St. was the first of several Sipes locations in Tulsa.
Following Tulsa-based food distributor Hale-Halsell’s acquisition of the company in 1955, Sipes remained in business throughout nearly the rest of the 20th century. The final store, located at East 61st Street and South Yale Avenue, closed in 1992.
Since Sipes’ closure, the Cherry Street location has served several other businesses, including another store called Yeakey’s Neighborhood Grocery. The building became Sound Warehouse in 1989, according to the Tulsa World.
Within the past 20 years, the space was divided to accommodate multiple establishments, such as Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in 2004. That section is now dedicated to Mexican restaurant Mi Cocina.
In 1999, Kristen George, and her husband, James, opened Cafe Cubana and what is now Fogue and Bates Cigar Warehouse. Although the cafe’s first 10 years were spent just across Quaker in the Lincoln Plaza, the couple has occupied this building for nearly a decade.
George describes the gradual development of Cherry Street as one of the most rewarding aspects of occupying this space.
“When we came in in the late ’90s, there were still a lot of rundown buildings and the sidewalk wasn’t as pedestrian friendly, so that growth has been wonderful,” she says. “There are a lot more choices than there were 10 or 20 years ago. It has just grown so much in ways that a lot of parts of Tulsa haven’t.”