Fox & Horn Restaurant

Fox and Horn - gary mccowan

Designed by Gary McCowan
1974
6501 S. Western, OKC

When developers J.W. Mashburn, Stan Harrison, and Bill Cleck decided that the south part of town needed an upscale restaurant, they were originally thinking of an early-English design for their steakhouse, to be called Fox & Horn.  They contacted architect Robert F. Reed about designing the building, and according to Gary McCowan, when Reed brought him into the project, “I decided to quit rather than work on it.  He (Reed) turned the project over to me, suggesting I plead my case to them (the developers).  After completing the working drawings, I was hired to oversee the project and worked construction.”

Instead of getting a Tudor-style design the developers thought they wanted, McCowan gave them a stunning piece of organic modernism that boasted redwood beams and light boxes, several native stone fireplaces, and plenty of glass:

McCowan - fox and horn - FOK journal

McCowan - fox and horn - FOK journal 2

Soon after its opening in 1974, The Oklahoman called the new eatery “one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city,” and customers must have agreed because the Fox & Horn became one of the places to dine in the Metro.   The design was so integral to the success of the establishment, in fact, that the building was included in early advertisements:

fox and horn ad 12 74

Yes, the Fox & Horn was hopping, so much so that two years after its opening, the owner began talking about expansion.  Once again, McCowan was hired to lend his magic touch, which more than doubled the restaurant’s seating capacity while maintaining its rustic modern charm.  Soon, the popular hangout began offering up weekly bus service and lunches to all OU home football games; patrons would park their cars at the Fox & Horn, head to Norman for a game, then return to the restaurant for (hopefully) an evening meal or nightcap.

The fun really began in 1978 when the liquor police raided the restaurant and its sister, the Wine Cellar in NW OKC, for running an “open saloon.”  Between the two restaurants, 455 bottles of wine and a lot of beer and liquor were seized — maybe the owners should have thought of another name for their establishment than the Wine Cellar….

Two years later, Senator Edward Kennedy was in town on a fundraising tour during his run for president and was feted by supporters at an elaborate dinner at the stylish restaurant, but the glory days didn’t last long for either Kennedy or the Fox & Horn. By 1981, Reagan was president and the cute little fox logo was gone:

fox and horn ad 1977

The restaurant building changed owners several times over the next few years and became home to Monaghan’s, PJ’s 4 Fresh Fish, and Alexander’s Steakhouse before finally closing as an eatery for good at the end of the decade.  In 1991, the 9,400 sf building was auctioned off and became medical offices.  In the May 2013 tornado that swept through SW OKC and Moore (once again), the building sustained damage, and I’m not sure if the medical offices ever reopened.  The old and still glamorous Fox & Hound building was demolished in the summer of 2015:

DSC_0183

… and will be replaced with this much less distinctive structure:

DSC_0186

Vintage photos of the Fox & Horn by Gary McCowan.  The photos and quote appeared in a 2010 (Volume 26.1, Issue Number 75) Friends of Kebyar journal devoted to McCowan’s body of work.  If you don’t have this issue, I highly recommend ordering it; it’s packed full of McCowan’s work that includes not only his architecture but also his dramatic sculptures and colorful geometric cards.  You can order back issues of the FOK journal here.

Also, go to the Mod Blog to see more photos of this lovely building and to read more about it.