More about the Braum’s / Classen Circle demolition debacle…
11:50 AM EDT on July 14, 2017
You have to admit, it was an attention-getting social media post. It was so out of right field that it seemed unbelievable, especially to anyone of any age who's experienced the North Oklahoma City bar scene.
Braum's wants to tear down the Hilo building? Huh? They want to put a new Braum's there? WTF! I'm going to text my friends and voice my complaints on Facebook!
Since OKC Talk first broke the news, the tattooed, offbeat clique of OKC's counter-culture has partnered with McGuinness grads and other fun-loving alcoholics to rally and save the cultural landmark and protest the planned demolition. Naturally, the Oklahoma City media has been all over it.
Here are the details of the protests via News 9:
Protestors chanted in the heat for their local watering hole on Wednesday. Dozens were hoping to block a new plan that would tear down an iconic Oklahoma City building.
“From the moment you step through the door, you're given a big hug and greeted like an old friend,” Jane Alsup said holding a sign supporting the Hi-Lo Club.
The plan was submitted by the Oklahoma fast food and grocery chain Braum's. The company is looking to build a new location on a nearby vacant lot, but it would mean tearing down the surrounding structures.
“It's just our community. It's a slap in the face honestly. Braum's has so many locations. There's three locations by Hi-Lo within ten minutes or less and they want this location specifically,” Alsup said.
For some, it's the history of the spot known as Classen Circle. They hope to preserve buildings that have stood for more than 60 years. But for most the bars and restaurants, it’s about adopted family and a place to call their own.
Braum's declined to comment on Wednesday. A spokesperson said, "We are still not issuing a comment at this time."
Yeah. "No Comment At This Time." Come on Verne, at least issue a bland PR statement that acknowledges your company's short-sighted idiotic screw up!!! How did Braum's not know this would be a big deal? Ignoring the issue and protests makes them look even worse.
Actually, I'm not sure that's possible. Braum's complete mismanagement of this issue makes me ask the same question I ponder every time Braum's screws up my order – How did this company get so successful? The service is abysmal at best, the food quality has gone down hill, and more often than not, the restaurants are filthy fly-infested germ resorts. Despite all that, Braum's is still growing and expanding and now looking to tear down cultural landmarks to build another behind-the-times fast food restaurant.
Each local news station had reports from the protest. The crowd was a diverse collection of freaks, geeks, punks, weirdos, activists and trust fund babies that you would normally see stumbling around the area at 1am on Saturday. It was weird seeing them all in daylight.
Naturally, our pal Ed Shadid was leading the charge. Here's a statement he issued on Wednesday after the news broke:
Before we continue, I just want to call out all the Johnny Libertarians and Who Gives A Damn yahoos who have been yelling "If Braum's wants to buy the building they can do what they want!!! Don't tread on me!!! End the Federal Reserve!!! Agenda 21!!!"
That argument is bullshit. I can't vouch for the historical significance of the area, but you can't deny the Donnay Building is a culturally significant landmark. It was one of the first LGBT friendly parts of town. The community should have a voice and say about what happens to it.
Also, to all the people calling the area an eyesore, go suck on a bag of burgers in Edmond. Classen Circle may be dirty and gross, and the Donnay Building may be falling into disrepair, but that's what makes it fun. It's part of the area's charm. Classen Circle feels different than all the boring and generic parts of town. It's why people go there when they don't feel like Ubering to Midtown or Uptown.
OKC Talk, which is supplanting The Oklahoman and Journal Record as a go-to source for local real estate development news, published a "what's next" this morning. The TLDR is that Braum's and the building's current owner have a lot of power to do what they want, and the only chance to stop the current development is to basically get the City Council to vote against rezoning the property, which would throw a wrench in the company's evil plans. If that doesn't work, the only other option is kidnapping and holding the Braum's Girl hostage. That will show them.
Anyway, things are kind of slow right now, so we'll probably go all-in with our coverage on this. This will include a TLO staple – making fun of Braum's. We've been criticizing and joking about the company's general ineptitude before it was cool. If you have any horror stories you want to share, send us an email or let us know in the comments. They need a well-deserved public shaming.