Bar Covell, the first restaurant from LA restaurateur Dustin Lancaster, is named for a street in his hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma. Since Bar Covell opened in 2010, Lancaster has opened eight more restaurants and bars in LA with An Eastside Establishment restaurant group. But, for his newest project, Lancaster is going back home, and bringing a bit of LA with him. “I want to do the best version of a contemporary adult bar for Oklahoma,” Lancaster says.
Bar Arbolada opens tonight in Oklahoma City, and Lancaster has hometown help. While bartending in LA years ago, Lancaster met his partner in the venture Riley Marshall. They soon found out they were from the same Oklahoma town and lived on the same small street in LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood — Arbolada Road. Marshall moved back to Oklahoma around a year and a half ago, and in the lead up to Bar Arbolada’s opening, he has dealt with all of the on-the-ground operations as Lancaster continues his work in LA.
But, Lancaster’s west coast experience is central to his vision for the new Oklahoma City bar, and he says Bar Arbolada is “in the same vein” as his LA establishments. “I’m excited for Oklahomans to have something like this,” Lancaster explains. “It’s a little more European.” To Lancaster, this means a heavy focus on boutique and natural wines and small plates from chef Tehra Thorp, another Oklahoma native.
The design in the 50-seat space also takes some of its inspiration from cities like LA, according to Marshall, who oversaw much of Bar Arbolada’s look, including patterned tile floors and a commissioned oil painting for behind the bar, a feature Marshall admired at his favorite LA spot, Bar Stella. “Everything I’ve seen that I’ve liked I threw together and it worked out very well,” Marshall says.
Marshall and Lancaster are adamant that Bar Arbolada doesn’t have a theme or schtick — a feature they see as particularly prevalent in Oklahoma City bars. “There’s just really nothing like it here yet,” Marshall adds. “We’re bringing everything to a level that Oklahoma City hasn’t seen.”
When Bar Arbolada opens it will serve cocktails, wine, and food, like corn fritters and ham and cheese toast with quince and egg, on weeknights. The bar-restaurant will also open for brunch on the weekends with the same food menu: as Lancaster and Marshall note, people love brunch in Oklahoma.
“We wanted it to not feel like outsiders thinking we’ll show you what this is. We really do love Oklahoma,” Lancaster says. “It mattered to us to keep its roots authentic.”
Take a look around Bar Arbolada below:
• Bar Arbolada [Facebook]