Bleu Garten aspires to be Midtown, downtown community gathering spot
Oklahoma City is set to see its first food truck court as one of the largest undeveloped blocks in Midtown is being prepared for a venue that will also host live music performances, movies and an outdoor bar.
Hunter Wheat, who has a three-year lease for the block at NW 10 and Harvey Avenue, has submitted plans for approval by the Downtown Design Review Committee that include covered seating areas, a fire pit, a bar area, restrooms and parking for six food trucks. The venue, named Bleu Garten, which Wheat hopes to open by August, will seat an estimated 350 people.
Wheat’s Blue Garten is inspired by food truck courts in Dallas, Atlanta and San Francisco, and plans call for a seven-day-a-week venue that will be family-friendy and complimentary to the surrounding developing neighborhood.
“We want to mesh all the good ideas from all these places,” Wheat said. “We’re limiting it to six food trucks to keep it relevant and provide a good rotation of what’s out there.”
Wheat said he was attracted to the Midtown site because of its proximity to a growing number of homes, shops and restaurants in the area, new destinations like the Ambassador Hotel, and upcoming attractions, including the Dust Bowl Lanes and Fassler Hall being built across the street.
Bleu Garten also is situated between the historic Plaza Court shopping center at NW 10 and Walker, and housing and shops developed by Midtown Renaissance at NW 10 and Robinson and NW 10 and Broadway. The property is owned by Midtown Renaissance and is being reserved for future, undetermined longterm development, Midtown Renaissance partner Chris Fleming said.
“Bleu Garten is a temporary use,” Fleming said. “It’s a great way to energize an otherwise dormant streetscape and vacant lot and make a connection to what’s going on at NW 10 and Broadway, NW 10 and Robinson, and what’s going on at NW 10 and Walker.”
Wheat said he is sensitive to the neighborhood’s growing residential population, which includes the nearby Guardian Garage lofts, Hadden Hall and the Cline, and is not planning to host late- night outdoor music performances. He also promises to employ security to maintain a family-friendly venue.
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“We are looking into getting the same speakers used at the Myriad Gardens for their summer concerts,” Wheat said. “Kenny Phillips, who operates those concerts, along with the Festival of the Arts and Opening Night New Year’s Eve, played two of his speakers at a low audible. The result was great, and the sound carries extremely well without having to blare the music. As an outdoor venue, we absolutely do not want to disturb the local residents.”
To further reduce noise, Bleu Garten will provide trucks with electricity.
“This venue is not a bar where we will be blaring music,” Wheat said. “It’s for community congregation. On Mondays, we want to cut down to two food trucks and project cult classic movies. It will be where you can watch one of your favorite movies outside, with food from a gourmet truck and local brew with downtown Oklahoma City as the backdrop.”
Wheat also has researched how to show daytime screenings and is convinced Bleu Garten can become a community viewing spot for college football and Thunder playoff games.
Other ambitions including hosting yoga and spin classes, crafts shows, little league baseball and other fundraising activities. He is also in discussions with retail promoter Allison Bailey about inviting her Christmas igloo pop-up shops and merchants to set up at Bleu Garten on weekends.
Art, Wheat added, will be heavily featured at Bleu Garten.
“I have also met with operators of IAO (gallery) about displaying local art,” Wheat said.
“My sister, Summer Wheat, is an artist, so it’s important to me to display art and help feed the local starving artist.”