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Wild Fork renovation maintains charm, class of the 25-year-old restaurant

Wild Fork renovation maintains charm, class of the 25-year-old restaurant


Those who worried a renovation of the Wild Fork restaurant in Utica Square would dim its charm or, heaven forbid, turn it into a sports bar can rest easy.

The McNellie’s Group, which has been consulting with a new owner for almost a year, closed the 25-year-old restaurant March 16 for the remodel. This was going to happen even if the COVID-19 shutdown had not come along.

“We did a lot of work, but I think longtime diners will be happy with the result,” said general manager Magan Copeland, who gave a tour of the almost-finished remodel Monday afternoon. “Some things were really overdue. For instance, we have new bathrooms that are wheelchair accessible for the first time ever.”

Copeland said if all goes well, Wild Fork will reopen to the public by Friday, May 22. It will have limited dine-in and patio service available.

Here are some highlights of the remodel:

The biggest difference diners will notice is that the bar has been moved from the middle room to the west side of the restaurant and expanded to 15 seats. It has a granite, horseshoe bartop, and the room is simply but nicely appointed.

The middle room now is a cozy dining area with new carpet, new wallpaper and new paint.

The east dining room also has new carpet, paint and wallpaper. It also has new curtains, modern light fixtures instead of fans, the tables have been refinished and the chairs reupholstered.

The new paint throughout is a soft, restful light blue-green or seafoam (without my wife with me I struggle with colors) with white trim. It replaces the former reddish color. The wallpaper featuring birds and plants is welcoming, with an Asian feel to it.

The patio, as delightful as ever on a beautiful spring afternoon, has new furniture.

Longtime fans also were concerned the menu might go through some drastic changes, but that hasn’t been the case, either.

“We touched some things up here and there, brightened up a few dishes and added a few, but most of it is essentially the same,” said Ben Alexander, corporate executive chef for the McNellie’s Group. “It’s still Julie’s kitchen, and the food is hers.”

Julie Woolman was an original partner in Wild Fork with chef Kim Michie when it opened in 1995.

“Overall, our goal is to maintain the things that helped make the Wild Fork a fixture of Utica Square for the last 25 years, while at the same time updating the space, brand, dining experience and menu offerings,” McNellie’s owner Elliot Nelson said recently.

“Additionally, we are making the Wild Fork a fully integrated piece of the McNellie’s Group portfolio, so you will start seeing it on our website, social media and loyalty app.”

Other restaurants under the McNellie’s Group umbrella are Dilly Diner, Elgin Park, McNellie’s Pub, McNellie’s South City, Fassler Hall, Yokozuna, Yokozuna South, The Tavern and Bull in the Alley.

Diners are encouraged to check the Wild Fork Facebook page for official opening information and other details.

“A few things are a little different, but the soul of the restaurant is still here,” Alexander said.

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Scott Cherry 918-581-8463

Twitter: @ScottCherryTW

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Scene Writer

I'm in my second tour of duty with the Tulsa World. I was a sports writer during his first stop. Since returning in 1992, I have been the food writer and now restaurant critic and wine columnist. Phone: 918-581-8463

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