The Chalkboard restaurant inside the Ambassador Hotel will change ownership | To eat
Since taking over Tulsa’s iconic The Chalkboard restaurant just over a decade ago, Josh Ozaras and Shannon Ozaras-Garner have been more than owners of this fine dining establishment.
They’re also usually the first people seen upon entering the restaurant, located on the first floor of the Ambassador, Tulsa’s original boutique hotel.
“Early on, when we were working for our dad, we were very active as owners,” Ozaras-Garner said. “We could never be the type of owner who leaves everything to someone else to run it.”
However, on June 30, the sibling team will leave the Chalkboard as owners for the last time. They decided earlier this year not to renew their lease with Coury Hospitality, the Dallas-based company that operates the Ambassador Hotel.
“Our decision has nothing to do with our relationship with the hotel, or even with the restaurant industry,” Ozaras said. “It’s just that Shannon and I have been working together in this field for a good 20 years, and we both decided it was time to forge new paths.”
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“When we started, neither of us had kids,” Ozaras-Garner added. “Now we both have families, and no matter how much we love this business, it takes us a lot away from our families. So that was the real driving force for me – just to be able to spend more time with my family.
Coury Hospitality will take over operations from The Chalkboard and plans to retain as much of the current team as possible, including Executive Chef Daniel Gibb. In a statement, the company said it plans to improve the restaurant’s design and menu.
The Chalkboard Restaurant and the Ambassador Hotel have been intrinsically linked for 45 years. Chef John Phillips opened The Chalkboard in 1976 and ran the restaurant, which made a name for itself with signature dishes such as Beef Wellington, until 1986 when the Ambassador Hotel closed.
When Tulsa native Paul Coury bought the then-abandoned building in the late 1990s with plans to turn it into an upscale hotel, he approached Phillips about resurrecting The Chalkboard for the building.
Phillips would soon sell The Chalkboard to a group that included Ayhan Ozaras, Josh and Shannon’s father. The family would also be involved in other restaurants, including the Garlic Rose and the Green Onion, but The Chalkboard remained the mainstay of the family.
When their father was considering selling The Chalkboard in 2011, the siblings decided to buy the restaurant and run it themselves.
Throughout its history, The Chalkboard has remained one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants. Tulsa World last reviewed The Chalkboard in 2017, giving it five stars.
The restaurant was also among the first in the city to add an outdoor dining area during the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate diners not yet comfortable eating indoors.
“I know some people will say, ‘Oh, COVID pushed you out of business,'” Ozaras said. “We were actually thriving during COVID. We are therefore able to pass on a successful restaurant to the new owners. »
Ozaras said he and his sister went to Dallas to tell Coury in person of their plans.
“I know it was a surprise for him,” he said. “But we have a lot of respect for Paul, and we thought that was something that wouldn’t be right to do over Zoom or just a phone call.”
In a statement, Coury said: “I have enjoyed the partnership with Josh, Shannon and their family over the past two decades. We look forward to continuing The Chalkboard’s legacy and serving the residents and customers of the Chalkboard. ‘hotel.
While the siblings agree they are at peace with their decision and are confident the restaurant that has been part of their family’s legacy for two decades is in good hands, they said they will miss their repeat customers – locals and travelers who regularly stay at the Ambassador Hotel.
“We’ve really become close with a lot of our customers,” Ozaras-Garner said. “Some of them have even attended our weddings – and that includes people who are regular guests of the hotel. I know seeing them regularly is something we will both miss.
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