When OKRA, the Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs, announced it would hold a week-long fundraiser at Grand Prize Bar to raise money for its Original Charity Saloon, Eater reached out to OKRA members Paul Petronella and Cecilia Norman to discuss the status of the bar's renovation and how next week's fundraising effort came together. Beginning Monday, chefs including Petronella, Underbelly's Chris Shepherd, Oxheart's Justin Yu, The Modular's Joshua Martinez, Hay Merchant's Antoine Ware, Pappas's Justin Bayse and Revival Market's Adam Dorris will also cook meals in the Grand Prize kitchen, with proceeds going to OKRA. If diners can avoid gorging on turkey, there should be some tasty rewards at highly reasonable prices.
As far as construction on the new space, Petronella explains that "There wasn't much to construct, because it's beautiful as it is ... (The only) major construction we did was a new bar top, which is done and gorgeous." Beyond that, Petronella says that "We're getting things cleaned up ? testing gas lines. We're really almost there ... our alcohol license should be there in the next week or two." They expect to open either on December 1 or that week.
For the decor, the OKRA members have agreed on an "Old-World Saloon" theme that will be executed by interior designer Dutch Small and architect Brey Tucker. While Norman notes that they want to give the designer "the concepts you want and directions and let them do what they're an expert in," she did share that Grand Prize owner Brad Moore, after seeing a proposal that included rickety antiques, has requested "sturdy furniture, strong enough to fuck on."
Reached by Eater, Small says that the "adaptive re-use project" will "create a saloon environment which recollects some undefined and undistinct past era." The goal is to "create a welcoming environment where people want to come and stay for a long spell."
Petronella says that next week's fundraiser was Anvil owner and OKRA president Bobby Heugel's idea. Petronella says that "We wrangled some chefs and said look, we need one more fundraiser before we open. Let's do it at Grand Prize Thanksgiving week. Everyone pick a day. I just jumped on Monday." In addition to next week's dinners, the organization will also launch a campaign on the PeerBackers site to get them closer to their $50,000 goal.
In terms of the staff, Anvil General Manager Mike Criss will move to the OKRA Saloon. Norman said she expects him to start interviewing next week. In terms of the drinks, she says "It's not going to have the extensive cocktail menu that Anvil does, but Mike's going to make sure that if you're behind the bar you can at least make some of the basic classics."