Restaurant industry mourns McClendon
News of Aubrey McClendon’s death sent shock waves through Oklahoma City’s restaurant industry, which he regularly supported as a customer, investor and owner.
The energy magnate and entrepreneur invested in more than a dozen local restaurants, including Chris and LaVeryl Lower’s Metro Wine Bar and Bistro and Pizzeria Gusto.
“He was also an investor in many of the city’s better restaurants, including some of mine. He was always a great partner and I will miss his insights and advice,” Chris Lower said. “It’s hard to imagine how different Oklahoma City would be without the generosity, imagination and leadership that Aubrey McClendon demonstrated. He really did want OKC to be a world-class city and personally did a lot to make it happen."
McClendon owned Pops Route 66 in Arcadia and Pops Soda Ranch in Nichols Hills Plaza. He also had a stake in Western Concepts Group (The Coach House, Sushi Neko, Musashi’s, The Tasting Room, Lobby Bar, Will’s Coffee Bar, Will Rogers Theatre), Provision Kitchen, Irma’s Burger Shack, and Deep Fork Grill.
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He was a partner in three concepts from A Good Egg Dining Group, Republic Gastropub, Red Primesteak, and The Drake and was interested in investing in a fourth.
“When news broke about our new Mexican concept (Los Barrios) Aubrey called the next day wanting to invest,” Keith Paul said. “Things being what they are with oil prices, we didn’t expect that. But that’s how he was. He wanted to do right for the city.”
Paul called McClendon “the quintessential silent partner,” allowing the principles to do their jobs but offering insight at just the right time.
“His influence on our company made us 100 percent better..." A Good Egg president Keith Paul said. “Lessons we learned from him were attention to detail and to raise the bar as high as possible.”
Chef Kurt Fleischfresser said he’d recently spoken to McClendon about the transformation of The Coach House, saying “His energy was contagious.”
“He was a great guy, and a great supporter of local restaurants,” Fleischfresser said.
Michel Buthion, owner of La Baguette, said McClendon wasn’t an investor in his restaurant but had recently contacted Buthion’s ex-wife Diana to offer investment if she needed it as new owner of Bellini’s Ristorante in the Waterford.
“He loved to help people,” Buthion said.
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