Food & Drink » Food Features

New Kaisers ownership also means a return to its classic roots

by

comment
Randy Giggers and Kristen Cory prepare to open the new Kaisers. (Shannon Cornman)
  • Shannon Cornman
  • Randy Giggers and Kristen Cory prepare to open the new Kaisers.

When new owners of this Oklahoma icon recently bought Kaiser’s American Bistro, 1039 N. Walker Ave., they shortened its name to Kaisers Diner, the name tweak a knowing nod to its long, local history.

Anthony J. Kaiser established the eatery at its Midtown location in 1921.

It has changed owners and menu items over the years, yet its historic facade and ice cream counter remain a time capsule.

In late September, Kristen Cory, the new operator, joined with head chef Randy Giggers and managing partner Angie Uselton to relaunch the diner.

It closed to make repairs and updates but will celebrate its grand reopening Saturday, Cory said. The opportunity came to Cory after construction projects at the nearby St. Anthony Hospital complex caused concern over possible structural damage to the historic building and former owner Robby Brookshire closed the venue. Further tests proved no damage, but Brookshire had already decided to sell it.

The most significant change is its name. Cory said it heralds the establishment’s new owners and reflects on its classic theme as well as its new look and attitude.

Two things that won’t change include most of the staff and a lot of the menu.

“Most of them [the staff] decided to stay on. They’re excited about this revamp, our new concept. And, of course, I kept the chef,” Cory said.

Giggers has been the chef at Kaiser’s for years.

“We are staying with the same diner theme, with homemade ice cream, of course, and a few new specialties that I think are going to be fun,” she said.

Cory is passionate about keeping as much original architecture and feel as possible and is instead focusing on general functionality upgrades, including making the well-used kitchen and dining more user-friendly.

“I have to give a lot of credit to my dad,” Cory said. “He’s a people person, and he was friends with the owner [Brookshire]. When he wanted to sell, he jumped at the chance.”

Cory’s father helped her buy it.

Like its unique dairy counter, Kaiser’s success is founded in tradition.

In the 1920s, it touted itself as a maker of “fancy-style ice cream.” A 1921 advertisement in The Daily Oklahoman described its products as “dainty and refined” and said that Kaiser’s had the greatest hostesses. Residents quickly found out that those claims weren’t exaggerated.

Cory’s excited to share her simultaneous sense of new energy and nostalgia. And she admits that the primary focus must be the menu and “real” Coca-Cola made with real sugar.

“I’m a really picky person, and I know what I like. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to serve it, obviously,” she said.

Uselton joins the project as a friend of Cory with years of experience in the business.

The street in front of Kaisers will close for Saturday’s grand opening party, meaning visitors can enjoy more live music, food, the upgrades to the eatery, prizes and new Kaisers Diner swag.

For more information, visit Kaisers at facebook.com/kaisersdiner.

Print headline: Old school, New ownership of vintage Kaisers eatery also means a return to its roots.

Latest in Food Features

Add a comment