Lost restaurants of Tulsa: Denver Grill

The Denver Grill in downtown Tulsa


Restaurants might come and go in Tulsa, but many have made their mark on our city’s history for their food, service, owners and atmosphere. Here’s one serving of Tulsa’s gastronomic history from the book "Lost Restaurants of Tulsa."

When most people think of the Denver Grill downtown, they remember the little diner at West Third Street and South Denver Avenue with the iconic neon sign and 1950s mural on the exterior wall. People may also remember chatting with Peggy Jones, the beloved owner of the Denver Grill from 1983 until the building was demolished in late 2004. The Denver Grill, however, had several lives before the era of nostalgia and urban renewal.

The Denver Grill originally opened in 1933, occupying a modest building near East First Street and South Denver Avenue. Brothers Al and Bud Claybrook served food 24 hours a day through the Great Depression and beyond. After Bud moved on to the Silver Castle in Whittier Square, Al and his wife, Mary, built the New Denver Grill in 1955. Mary Claybrook ran the diner after Al’s untimely passing in 1956 until Peggy eventually took over the restaurant.

Although the Denver Grill is gone, generations of Tulsans have fond memories of this lost cornerstone of downtown dining.


Purchase "Lost Restaurants of Tulsa" at Magic City Books.


Rhys Martin is a photographer and author from Tulsa. He also serves as the President of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association. Facebook: Cloudless Lens

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