Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Down Memory Lane

Sketching Success at Garfield’s Restaurants



 



Garfield’s was one of those restaurants that always felt comfortable. The menu choices were consistently prepared to order, the wait staff offered friendly smiles, and the containers of crayons let kids and adults try out their best artwork on the white paper table coverings.
 

The restaurant was the brainchild of former KOCO-TV news anchor Vince Orza. He made the leap from anchor desk to entrepreneur while working as a marketing professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“While at KOCO, I was also on staff at UCO,” Orza says. “I had a small ad agency, as well, and ChiChi’s Mexican Restaurants was one of my accounts. After a year, they hired me as their vice president of marketing. But I kept my full-time position at UCO, and was still working at KOCO – three full-time jobs, but I loved all three. I left ChiChi’s a couple of years later and decided to go out on my own.”

Orza originally thought about creating a restaurant themed around the Oklahoma City television market. It would have been similar to Garfield’s, he said, but would have been decorated with photos and memorabilia featuring sports, weather and news personalities from local TV stations.

“While working in television, I came to realize how much the general public made TV [personalities] celebrities,” Orza remembers. “If the restaurant became a place these celebrities frequented, it would also draw a large number of the general public who wanted to see and be seen with their favorite TV personalities. In the end, the easier route was to create a concept that didn’t depend on celebrities. Hence, Garfield’s.”

The first Garfield’s was located in downtown Edmond, in what is now Othello’s restaurant. Other locations soon followed, expanding into 26 other states from California to New York. At their peak, annual revenue was over $100 million a year.

“Garfield’s came along when ‘fern bars’ were a big deal,” Orza explains. “Those were bars designed for college kids in the late ’60s and ’70s. They were big bars made for young singles, and booze was the attraction. By the early ’80s, we baby boomers had grown up, had families. We grew up eating out at McDonald’s as kids, and at [T.G.I.] Friday’s and Bennigan’s as adults. So when we became parents, we still wanted to eat out, but didn’t want our young kids in a hell-raising bar atmosphere. From the beginning, Garfield’s was designed to be a mix of the fern bar but in a more subdued atmosphere.”

The paper on the tables and the crayons were an idea Orza said he came up with when he saw young couples taking their kids out to eat.

“Kids have a short attention span, and when they get hungry, they want to eat that instant,” he says. “The paper and crayons gave the kids something to do. It kept the kids occupied and the parents are happy, not to mention the people at the tables around the family. Noisy kids drive away business; families in a rush to get out spend less. So I learned to keep the kids happy, keep the parents happy, keep the neighboring tables happy – and higher sales keep the restaurant happy. It worked.”

Garfield’s still has 15 locations nationwide, including one in Bartlesville, but Orza sold the company in 2005, and said he never looked back. Today, he spends part of the year at his home in Edmond and part at a home in Arizona. For the most part, he said, he is basically retired.

“Philosophically, I’m in the late autumn years of my life,” Orza says, “and I want to see and do as much as possible before the leaves fall from the trees and winter sets in.” 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Getting Social in Uptown 23rd

New concept Social: Deck + Dining coming soon

Madison Cunningham’s Come-Up

The young singer prepares to open an OKC show for The Punch Brothers

Touring Fort Smith

From the historic courtroom of Judge Isaac Parker to the new Park at West End, Elaine Warner finds plenty of highlights in Arkansas’ second-largest city.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2018

No Events
No Events
No Events
No Events

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags