Bill and Ted say they are having an excellent adventure with their new Arena Pub & Grill downtown.
“When we tossed around possible names, we thought about calling it Bill and Ted’s, but I didn’t think it had a good ring to it,” Bill Stokely said, tongue in cheek.
Stokely, retired after many years in the outdoor billboard business, opened the restaurant-pub with longtime friend Ted Andress.
“We’ve been friends for at least 30 years, and we’ve always talked about doing something in business together,” Stokely said. “This just came up sort of suddenly.”
Andress’ son, Tyler, general manager of Arena Pub, contacted his father soon after Naples Flatbread closed its doors Dec. 22.
“We jumped on it,” Ted Andress said. “We signed the lease Jan. 15, and after an extensive remodel, we opened June 16. We thought downtown needed a high-end sports bar and restaurant, especially this close to the courthouse and other businesses.”
Arena Pub sits in the shadow of the BOK Center. Though it isn’t clear when events and concerts will be booked in the arena again, Andress said he isn’t concerned for now.
“We are making it without the concerts, but it obviously will be a big boost when they return,” he said.
The same menu is served all day, and we made a recent lunch visit. Important note: Customers may park in the lot adjacent to Arena Pub for free any time of day. Just take a photo of your license plate, scan the QR code with your smartphone at the entrance, hit the website and plug in your license number.
“That was a big obstacle at first,” Andress said. “We had to overcome the parking issue, and we don’t mind picking up the tab for our customers’ convenience.”
The menu is not particularly long, but it has variety. Arena Pub inherited the wood-fire oven from Naples Flatbread and added flat tops, fryers and burners to expand the food offerings.
The selections largely are elevated pub food, and based on our orders, the portions are huge.
I went for the Hangover burger ($10.99), probably because I am a soft touch for a burger with a fried egg included. The burger also had two, 4-ounce beef patties, bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato and mayo.
I boosted that combo, as if it needed a boost, with an add-on of sliced avocado ($1.99). It was big and messy and flavorful.
I replaced the fries with a house salad ($2.99 extra), and it was almost as large as my wife’s full dinner salad. The mixed greens were crispy and fresh and were paired with carrots, cucumber slices, diced tomatoes, red onion, egg and a topping of shredded cheddar cheese.
The dinner salad had the same ingredients, just more of them. We added shrimp ($6.99), and it turned out to be a good choice. The 15 shrimp had a nice flavor and were not quite medium-sized but definitely larger than the typical small salad shrimp.
The salads were served in large, slanted, red bowls and everything else on paper-lined metal trays.
In addition to appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches, the menu includes flatbreads, pizzas (gluten-free and cauliflower crusts available), calzones, mac and cheese and Siegi’s Sausage Factory selections.
Logan was our server and bartender, and she was informative and efficient.
The remodel of the dining room was extensive. Arena Pub kept the oval bar but pulled out all of the booths and replaced them with high-top and low-top tables and chairs.
The dining areas are surrounded by 15 televisions and a 110-inch overhead projector.
Plans for the outdoor patio that faces south include a pergola, heaters and televisions in the fall.
Live music or a DJ is scheduled Tuesday through Saturday. Arena Pub is kid-friendly until 7 p.m. Local entertainer Travis Kidd holds a jam Tuesday nights, coinciding with Taco Tuesday, when chicken and carne asada tacos are 99 cents all day.
Among Fired Up Friday specials is the Inferno burger for $6. Normally $10.89, it includes two 4-ounce patties, habanero-ghost pepper cheese, grilled jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and chipotle-ranch dressing on a brioche bun.
“I know a lot of places have been pulling back during the pandemic, but we think now is the time to put pedal to the metal,” Andress said. “We’re growing every day and love it.”
What the Ale: Marshall Brewing collaborates with Horton Records for Back to Paradise Beer
Throwback Tulsa: Remembering the popular floating amphitheater
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Stay up-to-date on what's happening
Receive the latest in local entertainment news in your inbox weekly!