Stockyards City ropin’ in new businesses

By Molly M. Fleming

The Journal Record

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Michel Buthion spent his childhood in France wanting to be a cowboy.

 

“I watched Western movies,” he said. “On Sunday afternoon, it was guaranteed I was watching a Western.

 

“And when they went from black and white to color – oh my,” he said, excitedly.

 

His love for the Wild West is what brought him to Oklahoma. He’s built his reputation operating La Baguette Bistro with his brother Alain Buthion.

 

With partners Alan Greene and Lindsay Ocker, he’s opening McClintock Saloon & Chop House at 2227 Exchange Ave. It will open this fall, Buthion said. It could be the start of a new business stampede in the historic district.

 

McClintock Saloon – like any good Western movie – started with the out-of-towner going into a business and telling the owner what he wanted.

 

That’s what French-native Buthion did to Ocker.

 

Ocker was running a premier boot store, McClintock Heritage Collection. He was a longtime customer of La Baguette. Buthion, upon returning from Nashville, walked into the Ocker’s store and told him his plan for a saloon. Ocker locked the doors, they drank some whiskey, shook hands, and were business partners.

 

The saloon is in Ocker’s old store space. The idea was moving along well, but the partners wanted to add a kitchen. After about a year, they were able to move into the adjoining space. In total, McClintock measures 7,300 square feet, including the whiskey garten.

 

Ocker said the plan is to get the entire renovation done for less than $2 million. McClintock’s Saloon side has a 50-foot oaken bar, with an all-oak back bar. Stained oak stretches from the floor to the ceiling, with carvings and columns for decoration.

 

Ocker oversaw the bar design. Master carpenters Larry Hall and David Phillips did all the work and are sought nationwide for their skills. Ocker’s nearby apartment has similar high-caliber woodwork, done by the same carpenters.

 

Buthion has hired Charles Burger to be the chef. Burger was waiting on tables at Cattlemen’s. He had worked in New York and Chicago, then came back to his hometown of Oklahoma City.

 

He said he’s not trying to compete with the neighborhood steak restaurant.

 

“Cattlemen’s is an institution,” Burger said. “We’re going to bring flavors that aren’t in that queue. It’s going to be new flavors and new techniques. They’ll be unique flavors that aren’t represented right now.”

 

The entrees will always come with a side and a starch, with other side items available as well. Lunch will start about $15 a person and dinner prices begin at $25 a person.

 

The menu will include a “Boot of the Week.” Ocker has boot merchandise still, so people can buy that week’s boot being offered at a low price.

 

Stockyards City business owner Jo Wiens compared McClintock’s anticipated opening to The Jones Assembly and the excitement it’s created for west downtown.

 

“It will introduce a lot of people to the Stockyards who are not expecting to see what they’ll find (at McClintock’s),” she said. “I’ve heard nothing but exciting things about the menu. It will feel like stepping back in time, but a first-class enterprise. It can’t get open soon enough.”

 

Buthion said he’s not done with projects in Stockyard City. He stood at the restaurant’s entrance and gazed across Exchange Avenue, like a cowboy looking for his ranch. He’s already anticipating bustling crowds on the street that houses several legendary Stockyard City businesses.

 

“It’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere,” he said. “We’ll do another place close by.”

 

Wiens and her husband, Terry Wiens, own National Saddlery and Stockyards Sarsaparilla, which is in the original location of the saddlery store.

 

The Wiens lost a building to fire in March 2015. The vacant lot across from Cattlemen’s on SW 13th has had a fence around it since last May.

 

“We’re hoping to get a permit and start digging soon,” she said.

 

HSE Architects, led by principal Todd Edmonds, designed the new building. It’s been redesigned in the last year, but it’s for a good reason, Wiens said.

 

“The good news is the reason we got delayed is we had arrangements with very unusual and very specific tenants,” she said. “We had to backtrack the design.”

 

The entire two-story, 20,000-square-foot building is leased, she said. She said she’s been careful about choosing tenants that will have a long-term presence in the district.

 

“I wanted a community partner that would be committed to the Stockyards,” she said. “I wanted tenants that were poised for success and had enough of a track record that they would be committed.”

 

Burger said he thinks the area has been neglected for several years. With a new restaurant concept, he said he hopes people will visit – or rediscover – the historic district.

 

Buthion said he’s already heard from the horse associations and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber about their excitement for the restaurant.

 

“It’s a dream come true for me,” he said.