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Cafe 7 Turns 10

Homegrown success for a fast-casual restaurant



 

Café 7 was almost a Which Wich. The local bistro that specializes in sandwiches, salads, pastas and pizzas turned 10 years old this week, but operating partner Jimmy Mays said the team’s first idea had been to go with the Dallas-based franchise.

“We ran the numbers after we made our initial investment, and really didn’t like how they looked,” Mays says. “The landlord wanted a tried-and-true concept, but at 26, I guess I didn’t know any better, so I talked him into letting us open Café 7. Ten years later, I wake up and see what we’ve done, and I think it’s pretty awesome.”

Mays opened the North May location with Tulsa restaurateur Paul Sorrentino on Nov. 6, 2006. Sorrentino and Mays met at Oklahoma State University while Mays was a student and Sorrentino a professor. Chris Kana, another Oklahoma State alum, signed on as operating partner shortly after Café 7 opened.

“I listen to a lot of my friends complain about their jobs,” Kana says, “and I’m grateful for this one I’ve had for nearly 10 years. I wake up every morning, and I like going to work.”

In terms of what has made the concept so successful – aside from delicious, affordable food in a setting that is very family-friendly – both Mays and Kana gave credit to their staff, including Stephanie Miller, now the operating partner at the Café 7 downtown. Miller, then Morrical, signed on two months after the North May store opened, and then worked her way into ownership.

“We only have to hire three to four people per year,” Kana says. “Our turnover is ridiculously low, and the turnover we do have is usually related to high school or college students graduating and moving on to something else. The consistency and quality of the staff has been the major factor in our success.”

The North May store was originally one bay, but the overwhelming success from the first day required that they expand into the adjoining bay 10 months after opening. The problem was that the tailor who occupied the bay didn’t want to leave.

Mays laughs at the memory. “We had to pay her a ‘relocation fee,’” he says. “She wasn’t going to move otherwise.”

Growth came quickly after that. Catering sandwich and pasta trays soon turned into specialty catering, and demand for easier access led to a Café 7 location in downtown OKC in 2012. A seasonal menu started at both stores in 2013 – mainly as a way for the chefs to flex their culinary muscles and avoid boredom, according to Mays. The north store expanded into a third bay in 2015 with the creation of Venue 7, and earlier this year, they opened a location on the campus of Love’s to provide lunch for the company’s staff.

Mays estimated that the north store alone has served nearly a million and a half guests in these 10 years. He paused after crunching the numbers. “We should say ‘over a million,’ I guess.”

The number he arrived at was 1.7 million, but Mays is nothing if not a humble son of a restaurant family – his mother has a catfish joint a half mile from the Red River that’s been in operation for more than 40 years. It’s where Mays learned the craft and the love of feeding people.

In May 2019 – or as close as possible – Mays and Kana will open The Hamilton in the Shoppes at Northpark, or what most of us call Northpark Mall. The dinner-only supper club and speakeasy will be a big departure from the model that got them where they are, but both partners are excited for the change. Mays and Kana both love bars, and they think Northpark is showing signs of renewed life. Also, it will give them a chance to do something they love: play in the kitchen to design a modern American menu that allows them to flex their chef skills.

 

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Calendar

November 2018

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
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Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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Cost: 12.50

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Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 479.418.5700
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Cost: $150

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Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405.815.9995
Contact Name: Meredith Zerby
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Cost: Free

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Andy Alligator's Fun Park
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Norman, OK  73072
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Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275

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Crossings Community Church
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Oklahoma City, OK  73134
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Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
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View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
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More information

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Cost: 12.50

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
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View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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Cost: Free

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Hopdoddy Chisholm Creek
1316 W Memorial Rd
Ste. 100
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View map »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
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Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

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Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Hopdoddy OKC Nichols Hills
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Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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More information

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Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
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View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
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Sponsor: Innovation Arts & Entertainment
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Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

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Cost: General Admission, $10; Students & Seniors, $7

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132 Seretean Center for the Performing Arts
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Sponsor: OSU Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Thomas Taylor Dickey
Website »

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Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: OKC Broadway
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Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

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Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

In honor of Yellow Submarine's 50th anniversary - as one of its animators, as well as the director of the 1960's Saturday morning Beatles cartoon series - Ron Campbell will make a rare...

Cost: Free

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Framed in the Village
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Cost: $25

Where:
Crossings Community Church - OKC Campus
14600 North Portland Avenue
OKC, OK  73134
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Sponsor: Crossings Community Church
Telephone: 405.302.1208
Contact Name: Sheila Urton
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Cost: Free —Donations are greatly appreciated and accepted at the door.

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First Christian Church
220 S Webster Ave
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Sponsor: Scissortail Productions, Inc.
Contact Name: Rob Bradshaw
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Where:
Rose State College Hudiburg Chevrolet Center
6000 Prosper
Midwest City, OK  73110
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Sponsor: Talmi Entertainment
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Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

The ultimate love story continues in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

In honor of Yellow Submarine's 50th anniversary - as one of its animators, as well as the director of the 1960's Saturday morning Beatles cartoon series - Ron Campbell will make a rare...

Cost: Free

Where:
Framed in the Village
10631 North May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73120
View map »


Sponsor: Rock art show
Telephone: 610.389.1807
Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
Website »

More information

Join us for a holiday card-making workshop with our Fall Artist in Residence, Allie D. Caesar. Allie has just returned from an almost decade-long professional practice as both a printer and artist...

Cost: $40

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
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View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405.815.9995
Contact Name: Meredith Zerby
Website »

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Cost: $10

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Calvary Chapel of Norman
1401 W Boyd
Norman, OK  73069
View map »


Sponsor: 107.1 KOUJ
Telephone: 405.310.2418
Contact Name: Stephen Herrell
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Come enjoy live, local comedy in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the 2nd Saturday of every month also has a family -friendly show...

Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

The ultimate love story continues in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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