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February 23rd, 2012 - Kelley Chambers

Dining at Devon

The oil and gas company is serving up a pot full of options

Devon Energy Corp. plans to open a full-service restaurant and banquet space in the top two floors of its 50-story office tower, in addition to a food court in its adjoining garden wing.

Company officials said Vast, a high-end restaurant concept on the 49th floor, will offer American fare including steaks, seafood, a full bar and breathtaking views. It is scheduled to open early this fall. Nebu, in the adjoining garden wing on ground level, will offer a variety of food stations, and is set to open March 19, followed by a coffee café in April. All of the dining concepts will be open to the public.

Vast will include seating for 135 and additional private dining rooms; the bar will seat 41.

“There are no unimpeded views in this space,” said John Williams, president of Williams & Associates Hospitality, who oversees food and beverage operations in the tower and the ground-level rotunda.

When looking at options for the top of the tower, Devon Executive Vice President of Administration R. Alan Marcum said company officials went through months of planning. He said options included more office space, an observation deck or a private club. In the end, he said they decided to welcome the public and create the restaurant and rentable banquet space high above the city.

Company officials were not interested in getting into the hospitality business, so they hired Williams and chef Andrew Black, both from the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Nebu will be operated by corporate dining company Guckenheimer Enterprises, based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

“We’re an oil and gas company,” Marcum said. “We’ve hired two highly reputable companies to come in to help manage our food, beverage and hospitality business. They’re the experts, not us.”

Williams estimates he will have a staff of about 225.

below A rendering of Nebu, the food court and dining area in the garden wing of Devon World Headquarters. It is set to open March 19, with an illy coffee shop set to open there in April.

Looking to make Vast inclusive, pricing was a top priority. Williams said the restaurant and banquet space is there to make a profit, but that is not the sole driver. Instead, he said Devon wanted a place where a person did not have to be a sophisticated millionaire or obtain a bank loan to get seated. He wants Ma and Pa Kettle to feel just as welcome as Richie Rich.

“We are not going to overprice the market just because we’re at the top of the building,” he said. “We want to be priced to the market.”

Pricing is still in the works, but Williams said it will be comparable to other high-end restaurants around town. He said a couple easily can dine for less than $100, and items will be available for the budget-conscious, as well as big spenders.

“Will we have a $7 glass of wine? Absolutely,” he said. “Will we have a $17 glass of wine? Probably.”

Rendering of one seating area for Nebu in the Devon World Headquarters.


For those looking to spend more, Vast will be equipped to comply.

“If you want to go in there and spend a lot of money and drive the experience, we have the capacity to deliver that for you,” he said. “But the intent is to manage the price.”

While reservations will not be required, Williams said it will be highly recommended. Vast has not yet begun taking reservations.

On the 50th floor, the largest banquet space will hold about 260. Air wall dividers will come down from the ceiling to cordon off rooms for small-, medium- and large-sized gatherings. Williams said they will be available for everything from a meeting for two to a wedding, banquet or reception. If someone so desires, they can rent the entire floor. Williams & Associates will handle bookings through its website, and Williams said people already have  begun making reservations.

To get guests in and out quickly, two express elevators will zip passengers from the lobby to the 49th and 50th floors. To handle larger crowds, eight elevators can quickly be converted to express elevators to serve those two floors, Marcum said.

Nebu will offer seating for 455. Chefs at food stations will prepare items ranging from soups and sandwiches to pizza and sushi. A large salad bar will be anchored in the middle of the space. Guckenheimer also will bring an illy-branded café, a line of gourmet Italian coffees and accessories. It will open to the south onto a lawn and additional patio and park seating.

Vast will offer dinner Monday through Saturday evenings. Nebu will be open for breakfast and lunch five days a week, and the illy café will be open throughout the morning, afternoon and early evening on weekdays. Pricing and exact hours are still being determined for all of the food and beverage options, Williams said.

Plans for dining and foodservice concepts for the Colcord Hotel, owned by Devon, are in the works. Williams said he will discuss details soon about the Colcord.

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