Local Chef Plans for Yearly Fall Festival

Mayor of Tulsa

WELCOMING FALL: Chef and Restauranteur Justin Thompson, left, and Brian Fontaine, manager of Fassler Hall, stand in Fassler Hall during the Harvest Festival Wine Dinner Nov. 3. Thompson originated the idea as a way to welcome fall—his favorite season. Thompson and his restaurant Juniper provided the food, and Fontaine provided beer and wine pairings.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

When Justin Thompson decided to open up his own restaurant, he knew where he wanted it to be.

Growing up in South Tulsa, “I remember when downtown was a dangerous place to be at night,” he says. But that’s far from true today. “Look at what’s happened in just a few years. I wanted to be a part of what’s going on downtown.”
And that’s exactly what Thompson has continued to do.

Two years ago, Thompson opened Juniper—”my baby,” as he calls it—a restaurant with a seasonal, locally-owned concept. All of its meats, produce and cheeses come from Oklahoma vendors. The restaurant changes its regular menu about five times per year and also offers a weekly menu with various themes, like beer pairings or a common ingredient. “We have a lot of regular customers who enjoy coming in and seeing what we’re doing,” he says.

Thompson shortly followed Juniper up with Prhyme, an upscale steakhouse in the Brady Arts District, and then the Italian-themed Tavolo, located in the Deco District in May of this year.

On Nov. 3, Juniper and its neighbor Fassler Hall partnered to put on the Harvest Festival Wine Dinner, which featured a buffet by Thompson and wine and beer pairings created by Brian Fontaine, manager of Fassler Hall.

“This is my favorite time of year,” Thompson says. “It was a nice opportunity to celebrate the season.”

The group of 100 attendees filled Fassler Hall—a last-minute change from the original plan to serve dinner outside under the stars. “That’s one reason why, next year, I would like to have it a few weeks earlier,” Thompson says.

Next year, he would also like to see the event as an all-day festival. “I’d like to see it be a larger event with family-friendly activities throughout the day,” he says, “with dinner and music at night.”

In the meantime, Thompson will remain busy with his three restaurants and his fourth venture: an event space at 7th Street and Boston Avenue to open early next year. Construction will begin in January.

“We have so many requests to use my restaurants for events like rehearsal dinners or corporate events,” says Thompson. “We are not going to close the restaurant for a night; I don’t want to do that to my customers.”

The event space will offer various menus to choose from as well as a Sunday brunch open to the general public.

Updated 11-26-2013

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