Since 2015, the number of food halls around the nation has grown from 25 to over 300. In the Oklahoma City metro area, we’ve seen the rise of the trend in the last few years including Parlor, Collective, and Railyard—the first of which opened only two years ago. But, what if instead of a food hall, there was an ecosystem of sustainable food, gathering places, and education? That’s where The Icehouse Project differs from other local eateries.
After success with the downtown OKC market hall 8th Street Market, Brandon Lodge and Patrick Myers wanted to create a new dining concept centered around an outdoor courtyard, providing spaces for all ages and creating a visually appealing experience. Once the pandemic hit, they also realized the outdoor space could provide COVID-friendly accommodations for tenants.
Through the early stages of conceptualization, Lodge learned about Myers’ family dairy farm and the struggles they were facing due to the corporate-dominated and increasingly expensive industry. It was nearly impossible to break into the local market with dairy products, and Oklahoma farmers were barely breaking even on their profits.
Through research and discussion, the two developers discovered that if the product could directly reach the consumer, smaller, locally-owned farms might continue to survive and even thrive. This dilemma brought to light the idea of a creamery: a mix of restaurant and retail offering freshly made ice cream, products for purchase, and education about the processing and production of dairy.
Curiosity Becomes Catalyst
After scratching the surface of the current U.S. food system, Lodge and Myers shifted their mission of developing a historic site to creating a sustainable system of local food. They hand-picked tenants with cross-business collaboration in mind.
One of the first to sign on was Majestic Beast Brewing. Not only could they use the creamery for items like beer floats, but the spent grain from the brewing process would also be a great food source for the dairy cows. The Detroit-style pizza restaurant would be able to use the creamery’s products for their famous Superman ice cream flavor. The Fried Taco quickly signed on, marking their first physical location after years of their successful food truck.
As the tenants were booked, the food production piece began to take shape. Lodge and Myers would include edible landscaping, providing education for the community and additional resources for the restaurants. They would also create a greenhouse with food products and a shipping container to grow mushrooms. The simple idea of a food hall turned into an entire environment of shared growth and sustainable urban farming.
The Future of The Icehouse Project
Beyond the courtyard and restaurants, The Icehouse Project also includes two historic buildings, one being Edmond’s original ice house and creamery. The old creamery will be transformed into a farm-to-table restaurant concept, highlighting the freshness of local food and the process of sustainable food production. The old ice house stables, where horses loaded up large ice blocks to haul around town, are being rebuilt as an event space, including a full kitchen for catering and an outdoor patio area.
The initial opening will include the courtyard area and the stables, with the greenhouse and restaurant launching near the start of the new year. The developers hope to continue growing and evolving the entire project to serve the needs of the community and provide ongoing education.
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About Ashley Neese
Ashley Neese is the Communications and Marketing Manager at the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce where she promotes Chamber events and helps members gain exposure. She also leads the Edmond Young Professionals organization and the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Ashley grew up in Edmond and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2017 with a degree in Mass Communication. In her free time, she enjoys brewing coffee and finding the best local eats.