Schlotzsky’s franchisee tops new restaurant with upper crust apartments

The 800-square-foot apartments feature crown molding, patios, microwaves and 50-inch flat screen TVs. Schlotzsky’s franchisee David Jones says the project has a Bricktown feel but is in Midwest City’s “Original Mile.”

By Jennifer Palmer

MIDWEST CITY — Schlotzsky’s franchisee David Jones took the company’s motto of “Lotz Better” to heart, adding posh extras to his new location here, including upscale apartments above the restaurant.

The $1.5 million project less than a mile from Tinker Air Force Base’s main gate is part of the city’s effort to revitalize the area known as the “Original Mile,” by providing attractive, mixed-use housing within walking distance to the Town Center Plaza shopping center, the city’s major retail development. It’s the first Schlotzsky’s restaurant to feature housing above.

The restaurant opened in December and construction on the four upstairs apartments should be complete this month, Jones said. The 800-square-foot apartments have a private entrance and will feature crown molding, granite countertops and appliances including microwaves, stackable washer and dryer and 50-inch flat screen TVs. Jones’ son, David, who manages the Midwest City restaurant, will live in one unit and the other three will be rented for $1,000 a month.

“It’s just like downtown Bricktown — in Midwest City,” Jones said.

Amenities continue throughout the restaurant, with a water fountain in the patio area, a media wall with flat-screen TVs and space for laptops in the dining room, tall booths, a cozy fireplace, baby changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms and plates to serve the sandwiches on. Jones said he didn’t want his guests eating out of baskets.

Most stores go above and beyond the Schlotzsky’s corporate model, but each was made to give the restaurant a homey feel because to Jones, Midwest City is home. His father, Kenneth Jones, worked for Tinker for 30 years and David Jones grew up in Midwest City.

Though a career with Pepsi Co. took him to California and Texas, when he decided to open a business his family could be involved in, it was time to come home, he said.

Jones opened his first Schlotzsky’s in Moore in the summer of 2011, which his daughter, Sarah, manages.

“When I was looking for a place to put our second franchise, Midwest City was at the top of the list because it had sentimental value,” David Jones said.

For Schlotzsky’s, it was an opportunity to re-enter Midwest City with an established franchisee, said Amanda Palm, a spokeswoman for Schlotzsky’s, which is based in Austin, Texas.

She said the company allowed Jones some flexibility in designing his restaurant and building, which he owns.

“We knew in looking for sites this was simply a good place for our brand. We wanted to be a part of the redevelopment efforts the city was putting into this particular area,” she said.

In December 2011, Midwest City published its revitalization plan for the Original Mile, a one-square-mile neighborhood defined by SE 15 on the north, SE 29 on the south, Air Depot Boulevard on the west and Midwest Boulevard on the east. Much of the classic, 1940s wartime housing built there was becoming dilapidated and was in desperate need of a face-lift.

Midwest City Mayor Jack Fry said when Jones approached the city with plans for a new Schlotzsky’s restaurant, he pitched the idea of adding a housing element. Jones, who has no experience being a landlord, was the first business owner to take a chance on the city’s vision.

The apartments are within walking or biking distance to the many stores and restaurants at Town Center Plaza and are perfect for somebody looking to live an urban lifestyle, the mayor added.

“It is a bold step for the city. We’re changing a little from suburban America to urban America. It’s time for Midwest City to adopt some of the architectural things going on around the country,” Fry said. “Sometimes, I think we need to think outside the box … and this was a place we could do that.”

Source: The Oklahoman

A journey for the Original Mile: Midwest City on track to redevelop historic area


By Heide Brandes

MIDWEST CITY – When customers step into Midwest City’s new Schlotzsky’s at 2400 S. Air Depot in Midwest City, they will experience a design and plan unlike any of the chain’s other restaurants in the U.S.

Restaurant owner and Midwest City native David Jones also owns DLJ Holdings. DLJ Holdings owns the land and building that Schlotzsky’s inhabits.

However, his design is unique. The restaurant is part of a revitalization plan introduced by Midwest City to bring new life into an old neighborhood. The chain restaurant façade fits with Midwest City’s Original Mile plan, occupying the bottom of the two-story building. Four 800-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments are on the second floor.

The two-story concept is unusual for a modern chain sandwich shop. Jones said by participating in the Original Mile plan, he not only has the most beautiful Schlotzsky’s in America, but also is contributing to an area he feels will be the next big thing in central Oklahoma.

“The redevelopment is a very big undertaking on the city’s part,” Jones said. “It’s a massive plan. They are looking at all aspects to make Midwest City a ‘Model City’ again. I think we are the first one to do a commercial development part of the plan.”

The vision of the Original Mile plan is to revive the area by building on the original concepts that earned Midwest City recognition as “America’s Model City” by the National Association of Home Builders in 1951 while creating a distinctive, desirable and quality neighborhood of the future, said Billy Harless, the city’s community development director for Midwest City.

“New and improved commercial and retail areas will complement the existing town center and provide for innovative mixed-use development,” Harless said.

To put the plan into place, the Midwest City officials conducted site visits, interviews and meetings with city staff members, community members and residents of the Original Mile.

Building back

Established in 1942, Midwest City was a one-square-mile area that consisted of homes, a school, a park and a retail district. The Original Mile is between Air Depot and Midwest Boulevard and SE 15th and SE 29th streets. The neighborhood was developed as housing for the Midwest Air Depot, later renamed Tinker Air Force Base. Both the city and Tinker have grown substantially and the old neighborhood needs a redo, officials said.

City planners have developed a long-range plan for the blighted neighborhood. Besides new mixed-use developments that include urban apartments, the plan also includes new streets, new façade and even a neighborhood amphitheater and plaza gathering area.

“What we did with the Original Mile study was come up with as many ideas as we could that the city could pick and choose from,” Harless said. “One of the things that came out of the study was that the Original Mile had a lot of odd-shaped property with limited parking and small parcels from the old houses, which gave us the flexibility with zoning for things we were unable to do before, like mixed-use commercial.”

Additional commercial development is already under way at Air Depot Boulevard within the Town Centre Plaza complex. The mixed-use concept is new to Midwest City and includes upscale first-floor commercial space for office or retail and upscale apartments on the second floor.

“It’s very appealing for business owners to be able to build a business and live over their business, too,” Harless said. “Mr. Jones’ development is the first to do that in Midwest City, but we have other developers who have that option in their permits. We knew when we built the Town Centre (on SE 29th Street between Air Depot and Midwest Boulevard) that we would have to do something with the property surrounding it.”

Jones said the new Schlotzsky’s, which opened on Dec. 30 at 2400 S. Air Depot, fits the concept and is unlike any other in the nation.

“It has an indoor-outdoor fireplace and we are working to complete a mosaic fountain,” Jones said. “We also chose private booths for seating. Although booths do not lend themselves for maximum occupancy, it’s more comfortable for the customers.”

The building also has a grand balcony, a cobblestone drive and a drive-thru with private screening elements. Landscaping and finishing touches are under way.

“Inside the upstairs apartments, we have higher ceilings than normal, over-and-under washer and dryers, balconies and 50-inch flat screens in every apartment,” Jones said. “We decided to go with one-bedroom because we wanted the apartments to be more spacious.”

The apartments, which are currently unnamed, are expected to open for residency at the end of February.

The design of the entire structure includes 33-foot walls on one side of the development, vibrant colors and up-and-down lighting to enhance the design.

“This is really an amazing development,” Jones said. “Residents of the apartments can just walk out their door, step onto the sidewalk and go shopping at the Town Centre. This plan is going to bring a different perspective to Midwest City.”

Harless said many of the concepts are to make the area as a whole more appealing.

“We have other aspects of that Original Mile study that the city is working on right now,” he said. “We have a decorative fence planned along Midwest Boulevard that the city is ready to start on, some monuments planned and the new Eastside Elementary School. We are looking at other elements in the study, like housing and façade work on existing housing.”

Midwest City has an advantage in that it has a general lack of dilapidated structures, but still has good neighborhood design. The city currently plans to remove the water tower at the site of the former City Hall and install a new cell tower that will be built decoratively to make more aesthetically pleasing.

Though the neighborhood currently has three public parks, the addition of small pocket parks is also a part of the plan.

The Original Mile

The Original Mile plan includes the following:

• Introducing a new streetscape throughout the Original Mile with new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, traffic-calming methods and trees.

Source: The Journal Record

• A Capital Improvement Plan to provide a guide to systematically improving infrastructure in the Original Mile.

• Promotion of home revitalization design options for façades, remodels and infill for existing homes in the area.

• A community civic space for a major public outdoor venue that links Town Center Plaza to the neighborhood and draws city and regional audiences, using the new camouflaged cell tower as a focal point.

• Keeping single-family homes and duplexes as the predominant housing choice, add innovative housing through mixed-use developments and consider row homes around the community civic space.

• A phased funding and priority plan.