It's no secret that I hate this state. Oklahoma is the epitome of red states. Not one single county has voted for a democrat in the last three elections. This place is so conservative it makes Ted Cruz look liberal. But as backassward as this state is, Oklahoma City is really kind of coming along nicely. I'm not talking about civic and municipal projects. The city and state are in deep debt because the conservatives collected virtually no taxes from the oil industry when it was booming. That left gaping holes in the coffers.
No, what I'm talking about it private investment in restaurants and other locations.
OKC is all about sprawl. It is the second largest city in the country in terms of square miles. Lack of investment in the downtown and midtown areas sent the population fleeing to areas like Edmond, Yukon, Piedmont, and Choctaw. Because those areas were undeveloped farmland, the houses are all shiny and new. That means there weren't established neighborhoods that foster culture and community. When there's no identity, there's no sense of community. No sense of community means you don't have local investment in the area. And all that leads to a takeover of national chains. WalMart, Applebees, Olive Garden, Home Depot, and Red Lobster rule the suburbs.
But then came the 1990's and our savior. OKC couldn't pass a bond issue to save it's life in the 70's and 80's. It took a mayor named Ron Norick to convince the population what could be built if they'd just pass those damn bond issues and sales tax increases. He was able to sell it like no other mayor. The result was MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects Plan). MAPS turned the once dismal, and dangerous, downtown into a tourist hell. But that tourist hell brings in good money for the city. It also brought in an NBA franchise and other projects that turned this city into something other than a piss-stop for truckers.
When MAPS re-energized the city, those crappy neighborhoods around downtown and midtown started to see life again. And with that life came local investment. You still see those national chains in the suburbs, but when you get to the heart of OKC, all you see are local establishments that really identify each area. There are so many great places in this city, it's hard to name them all. So, I thought I'd just list a few of my favorites.