New Bricktown businesses add their cheers for Big 12

Published: Friday, March 13, 2009 7:00 am By: Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

Four new Bricktown businesses -- a restaurant, two bars and a hotel -- were aiming to open well before this week's Big 12 basketball tournament.

Two, Coyote Ugly and America's Pub, didn't make it.

The Hampton Inn opened Feb. 20 and was immediately barraged with callers hoping to make last-minute reservations. And Brix restaurant opened Monday with just two days to break in its staff.

Cy Perkins, general manager at the Hampton, admits he would have preferred having more than two weeks to get his staff ready for the onslaught of Big 12 fans.

"Typically I think hotels and restaurants like to have a quiet opening, a little bit of time to ramp up their operation," Perkins said. "But we knew what we were getting into, and it's been a challenge, and fun as well."

Perkins said the hotel was sold out Tuesday through Saturday nights. A simple online notice advising the hotel was expected to open by late February was enough to prompt hundreds of Big 12 fans to call with last-minute reservations.

Some, Perkins said, already had reservations elsewhere in the city but were hoping to stay downtown. They were asked to leave their names on a waiting list.

Since beginning construction at the old Daiquiri Zone last fall, Jackson Price's goal has been to have Brix, a sports restaurant and bar, open before the arrival of the Big 12.

He made it -- just barely. Opening Monday, the restaurant even changed its initial plans of only serving the dinner crowd. Price said as he realized the restaurant was likely to open just before the games started, he and his partners decided to create a lunch menu with quick-order, lower-priced items.

"Monday and Tuesday was a bit slower, so that gave us a couple days to get ready," Price said. "Wednesday we got thrown into the fire."

Whether the rest of the week goes as well is the question for Price, Perkins and others as they deal with the unexpected loss Thursday by Kansas University to Baylor.

Kansas University fans arrived en masse to support their team, and with the arrival of bad weather were expected to leave early rather than watch the remainder of the tournament.

"Today it was slower," Price said. "With the weather, and KU losing, that didn't help."

Bricktown Association director Jim Cowan said the Big 12 ranks as one of downtown's biggest, most important events.

"Any business faces a lot of challenges clearing all the hurdles and getting permits to open," Cowan said. "At Brix they've been preparing for the Big 12 since they first announced they were coming in. Hats off to them for getting it done."

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