By EMILY RAMSEY
RESTAURANT EXPANSION: Restaurateur and Glenpool Vice Mayor Momodou Ceesay stands in front of the sign for Mamadou’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in downtown Tulsa near 5th Street and Denver Avenue. The restaurant opened in July and sits below 5th Street between the Aloft Tulsa Downtown hotel and the newly renovated Central Library.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Editor’s Note: Glenpool Vice Mayor and restaurateur Momodou Ceesay is one of Greater Tulsa Reporter’s “10 People to Watch in 2016,” as announced in its January 2016 issue. was the first news group in greater Tulsa to introduce People to Watch, which launched in January 2009.
Throughout the year, has published a series of articles featuring each of its “10 People to Watch.” Next month will feature the last of its 2016 series, spotlighting Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon.
Gambia native Momodou Ceesay is having a big, and busy, year.
His flagship restaurant Mamadou’s, located in Glenpool, will celebrate 20 years in November. He opened a second restaurant location in July at 200 Civic Center in downtown Tulsa. The restaurant sits below 5th Street between the Aloft Tulsa Downtown hotel and the newly renovated Central Library at 5th Street and Denver Avenue.
As a frequent visitor of Mamadou’s in Glenpool, Lee Levinson, one of the partners in Aloft Downtown, approached Ceesay in 2014 regarding the prospect of bringing Mamadou’s to downtown Tulsa in the building connected to the hotel, which would offer hotel guests a nearby restaurant choice.
Ceesay, the ever-friendly, accommodating individual that he is, easily replied “sure,” not realizing, at first, just how serious Levinson was.
Soon after that conversation, Levinson brought his three additional partners (Neal Bhow, John Snyder and Bruce Taylor) and their spouses into Mamadou’s in Glenpool, “and they all agreed that Mamadou’s was the right restaurant to complement their hotel,” Ceesay recounts.
Yet, while the plans were put into place early on, the extension of 5th Street into a loop in front of Aloft and the construction of a ramp leading to Elwood Avenue caused restaurant plans to be put on hold until construction neared completion.
A week after Mamadou’s Restaurant and Sports Bar opened downtown, the 5th Street extension opened, to be followed by the opening of Central Library on Oct. 1.
“I’m happy about this downtown location,” says Ceesay. “It’s walking distance from the courthouse, hotels, the Center, Cox Business Center and Central Library. There’s lots of potential.”
The restaurant’s sports bar interior was created by John Snyder, with 15 big-screen televisions and a large draft beer selection. There is even a Mamadou’s app available that allows individuals to view the restaurant’s draft beer choices.
In addition to his restaurant obligations, Ceesay has served on the Glenpool City Council since 2012. He served as Mayor of Glenpool from 2013-2015 and currently holds the position of vice mayor.
“In 2015, Glenpool was the fastest growing city in Oklahoma,” says Ceesay, “because we are a safe city; we have great schools and affordable housing, and are close to Tulsa.”
A notable expansion announcement took place last year, when St. Francis Health System announced plans to construct a $23 million, 49,000-square-foot health complex at U.S. Highway 75 and 151st Street in Glenpool. Its offerings will include emergency room, X-ray and laboratory services. Completion is expected in spring 2017.
Ceesay has also served on the Criminal Justice Authority Board for Tulsa County and Vision Board of Directors for Tulsa County, both since 2012.
Ceesay has lived in Glenpool with his wife and four children since 2000. He came to Oklahoma from Gambia after being encouraged by his cousin who was recruited to play soccer at Rogers State College (now Rogers State University).
Ceesay’s interest in the restaurant industry began during his time as a student at Rogers State College. He got a job working in the cafeteria, and “I found that I really liked interacting with people and enjoyed the excitement I got from cooking,” he says.
Therefore, after transferring to Oklahoma State University, he changed his major from business administration to hotel and restaurant management.
He went on to open Mamadou’s in Glenpool in 1996 after spending 12 years as a manager at Steak and Ale. Ceesay chose to spell the restaurant’s name phonetically as the way that most Oklahomans pronounce it, he says, which is slightly different from the true pronunciation.
“I love having people always around me,” he says. “It excites me to go around talking to people.”
Ceesay’s energetic presence that has helped his Glenpool restaurant succeed for two decades will, no doubt, carry over to his new downtown venture, as it has in all aspects of his career.