91st and Yale becoming retail hub as new stores, eateries and businesses open

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15 Dec 2013

A south Tulsa intersection is growing on every corner as new eateries and businesses move in.

A little more than 20 years ago, Des Bennett was practically alone at 91st Street and Yale Avenue.

Her gift shop, The Perfect Touch at 4932 E. 91st St., was one of a small handful of businesses at the south Tulsa intersection.

“There was nothing,” she said — “an Arby’s, a cleaners, a beauty salon and an insurance company. That was it.”

Back then, her store was a mere 1,100 square feet. It has since expanded to 4,100 square feet.

Now, growth is evident on every corner of the intersection, with a virtual explosion of retail options including two new shopping centers and a boost in traffic.

“It’s been really good,” said Bennett, one of several merchants in the Hunter’s Glen shopping center, which also houses Ri Le Vietnamese restaurant, Docs Weight Loss and Family Care Clinic, Vintage Interiors and V’las Salon & Spa.

And that’s just part of the southeast corner. Across Yale Avenue from there is Yale Village, anchored by Tulsa’s second Whole Foods market, which opened Nov. 19.

“When I got here, this was nothing but a dirt pile,” said Lorah Gerald, the metro marketing team leader for both the new Whole Foods and the first one at 41st Street and Peoria Avenue.

She had lived in Brookside for about 11 years, then moved to the 91st and Yale area less than two years ago, around the time the Tuscana shopping center was being built at the northeast corner of the intersection behind QuikTrip and Sonic Drive-In.

“The area has exploded,” she said, mentioning easy access from the Creek Turnpike as one possible reason.

The addition of Whole Foods to the area has created a traffic pattern to the intersection, said Steve Walman, managing broker for Walman Commercial Real Estate Services, which manages the Tuscana on Yale shopping center that opened earlier this year on the northeast corner. Thanks in part to the turnpike, it makes the area convenient to get to from all parts of the city.

In addition to traffic, the factors of high population density and high household income make the intersection a viable retail corner, Walman said.

Within one mile of the center are 8,716 people, according to information Walman shared. That jumps to 79,473 within three miles and 176,592 within five. Average household incomes for those same radiuses are $126,307, $97,419 and $79,999, respectively — perhaps the best demographics in Oklahoma, Walman said.

Plus, the area is aesthetically pleasing, said Gerald, with nearby Hunter Park, hills and biking trails. “Those are the things I was drawn to when I moved out here.”

Next door to Whole Foods is The Cook’s Nook, a gourmet kitchen ware and gadget shop that opened Nov. 19, as well.

“I just love everything that’s out here,” said Debbie Kouri, who owns The Cook’s Nook with her husband, Dwight, both of whom saw a need for such a store in south Tulsa.

Kouri, who has lived in Tulsa about eight years, was a midtown resident for a while and loved it — still loves it, she reiterated.

“But I also love south Tulsa,” said Kouri, who moved to the area a couple of months ago. “Everyone’s very welcoming. They’re excited we’re here.”

More dining options

When The Perfect Touch first opened, Arby’s — which was at one end of Hunter’s Glen before moving to the far southeast corner of 91st and Yale — was the only dining option.

“Now, we have them on every corner,” Bennett said.

She meant that literally, what with Starbucks on the northwest corner; QT and Sonic on the northeast; Arby’s on the southeast; and, with a now-hiring sign outside its newly finished structure, Upper Crust pizza.

That’s not counting dining options at Tuscana.

Keo, which has been in Brookside’s Center 1 development for several years, opened in late winter on Tuscana’s northwest corner. Then came Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen, as well as long-time Tulsa sweet-treater Ludger’s Bavarian Cakery.

In the new Yale Village, Jimmy John’s and Smashburger both have locations on the center’s southeast corner, with Yokozuna — McNellie’s Group’s popular Asian-fusion restaurant in the Blue Dome District — coming soon next door to The Cook’s Nook.

Across 91st from Yale Village, you’ll also find Subway and Kaffe Bona coffee house.

A Kumon after-school math and reading program will open at Yale Village soon, along with a Verizon store. The afternoon we spoke with Walman, he was celebrating signing the last retail portion of the center: Compliments, a women’s boutique, which will move from The Plaza at 81st Street and Lewis Avenue. Home Design Studio and Salt yoga, which has a studio at Utica Square, will open soon, too.

Other services at the intersection include a tanning salon (At the Beach), chiropractor (Charles Zoellner), gold buyers (Tulsa Gold & Gems), banks (Bank of America, ONB and MidFirst), a liquor store (Primo’s Wine & Spirits), salons (ABC Nails, Capri, Elephant in the Room Men’s Grooming Lounge, V’las, Great Clips and SuperCuts) and clothing (Sweet Pea Couture).

Beyond desirable demographics, it’s about community, Bennett said. “This is where Jenks meets Union.

“The people out here are what make this what it is,” she said.



Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483