Good Oak Bar – Classic, Old World, No-Nonsense & Authentically Tucson
August 30, 2013
by Bree Collins
At Good Oak Bar, nothing cute, kitschy, or precious is allowed. The questions driving the design for Good Oak Bar were ‘What kind of bar belongs here? What is true to a building from 1919 that is next to Rialto and Congress, and true to Downtown Tucson?’. Derrick Widmark has been examining these questions ever since he came to Tucson a year ago to build the second Diablo Burger. “I’ve thought a lot about what Good Oak is and what it is not,” says Widmark.
The conversation surrounding the “KTS” controversy reminded Widmark that he had a responsibility to create a space that fits with the spirit, character, and history of Downtown Tucson. Widmark can sympathize with the feeling that something you love has changed. He grew up going to Manhattan’s CBGB’s, and felt similarly displaced when the music venue became a high-end clothing boutique as part of the neighborhood’s overall movement away from its raw, rough identity. “I chose to come to Tucson because I loved the vibe of this Downtown,” says Widmark. “And I feel a strong responsibility to be true to that spirit.”
A mural, painted above the booth area, is the main decoration in the room. Tucson is spelled backwards in desert tones of faded red, yellow, and brown, and can be seen properly if you look at it in the mirrors placed at the same height above the bar. Widmark’s friend Pierre Finkelstein of Grand Illusion Decorative Painting flew in from New York to do the piece, with the intention to appropriately represent a space built in 1919. It was inspired by the Historic Warehouse Arts District signs on Toole and Sixth Ave, and was designed to convey that era and spirit.
The menu will be “local-foods-based pub fare” that will be seasonal, changing, and flexible. Good Oak will work with local farms, ranchers, and producers to create seasonal dishes around their ingredients. It might be a special that only lasts the weekend, but Widmark thinks the short-run nature of the food will be a nice complement to the consistency and regularity of Diablo Burger’s menu. It will also give their kitchen a chance for more creative expression.
Good Oak’s craft beer and wine programs will be run by Blake Collins and Kassie Killebrew, respectively. The programs focuses on Arizona beer and wines, and as such these two will be creating relationships with local wineries and breweries. There are no details yet, but Widmark says the program also includes beer and wine cocktails.
Rock music will be the chosen sound for the space. “I want Good Oak to have an off-the-beaten path, under-appreciated, rock and roll heart,” says Widmark. “The way the bar looks, sounds, and tastes is defined by place, and I’m excited to offer it up to Tucson.”
Good Oak will be opening September 4th at 316 E. Congress. You can find out more information on their Facebook page.