Whether designed intentionally or occurring through happenstance, bars have character, and developing that character requires time. When well-executed, it’s not that a single style of bar is better than another, rather that they all have a time and place. When envisioning The Tulsan, the owners settled on a simple concept—tailor the bar towards real, everyday people. The path to ensuring The Tulsan embodies that ethos has been anything but rushed.
The Tulsan quietly opened its doors in the Blue Dome District in March, and its following has grown organically through word of mouth and the hard work and perseverance of its owners.
The Tulsan is owned by three hospitality industry veterans, each providing different expertise. Kyla Holderness is perhaps most well-known as the owner of Empire, Tulsa’s soccer-centric sports bar. While you may not personally know Torey Brown, it’s likely you’ve seen his craftsmanship in the woodwork at Hodges Bend, Topeca, or Amelia’s to mention a few. The third owner, Justin Brauchie, has years of experience providing point of sale systems to the hospitality industry.
The vision of The Tulsan was to create a casual environment that was welcoming to the average Tulsan. "I love Tulsa. I’ve lived downtown since I was 20 years old," said Brown. "I started thinking about how we perceive Tulsa. It’s visually clean; it’s affordable and well-rounded." That idea was formed nearly two years ago.
As authentic as it gets, The Tulsan was built on slow and steady "Tulsa time" with an emphasis on hospitality. "It’s pretty important when you say The Tulsan on the front that you have that mindset," said Brauchie. "We are the city that still holds the door open for you. That’s who we are in Tulsa."
When walking in, the first thing you’ll notice is the natural light cascading across the plants along the front window and wall—as bright and clean as the rest of the space. Brown’s woodworking skills are showcased throughout the establishment, but most prominently at the bar. The white walls and shelves holding the bottles are framed by several massive wooden beams. The intricate woodwork on the guests’ side features 66 diamonds—a touch that seems to be a nod to Route 66, but Brown says it was happenstance.
In addition to the bar seating, benches, and tables, there are two private booths that can comfortably seat five people. The booths each have a TV and offer the perfect setting to watch a game with a few friends, while still feeling connected to other patrons at
Determined to self-fund and open the bar debt-free proved to be a timely process, but it’s one that is exponentially more rewarding. "Those shelves, I want them to be full," said Brauchie, "but when they are full it is because we have earned it."
However, their wooden shelves are far from sparse. The Tulsan’s drink selection spans the gamut of beer, spirits, and cocktails, with an emphasis on local options when possible. Their taps include selections from Cabin Boys Brewery and Prairie Artisan Ales, and they have plans to add some local ciders. The spirits selection has a slight emphasis on whiskeys, but there are plenty of bottles allowing them to craft a variety of cocktails. Several of the spirits are also certified gluten-free, a choice that was informed by Brauchie’s perspective, as his wife has a gluten allergy.
A noteworthy original cocktail, The Schrute, contains Infuse Mango Habanero Vodka, beet juice, lime, and club soda. The upcoming full cocktail list will feature six to eight seasonal options and a build-your-own mule. They also have plans to offer a house limoncello.
While serving drinks may be the primary aim of a bar, hospitality takes precedence at The Tulsan. Bartenders are encouraged to get out from behind the bar and talk with guests. "The first thing we should be asking is how can I make your day better," said Brauchie.
The Tulsan keeps an active event calendar with table tennis tournaments every Tuesday and plans to add trivia and charity events. They also plan to support the community by offering a place for local artists to display their work. An official grand opening party with a DJ and food trucks is tentatively planned for June.
The Tulsan is open from 4 p.m. to at least 12:30 a.m. on Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday through Sunday.