Designed by Joseph Boaz
1100 N. Walker, OKC
Although it seems like it’s been there forever, Brown’s Bakery was once Clyde’s Grocery Store. Grocer Clyde Brewer ran a successful small market and wanted to expand his business. Designed by Joseph N. Boaz just after WWII, the grocery was one of the first in the U.S. to incorporate modern aesthetics, such as large windows and a revolutionary barrel roof in its design. The store was such a stunner that it was featured in several architectural publications of the day and may have been an inspiration for the Quonset hut style of the future Safeway chain.
Clyde Brewer retired in 1968 and Frank Hayes took over the store and kept the name. Even with the decline of the neighborhood, Clyde’s continued to do well; however, Frank had a bit of trouble in October 1975 when he caught a six-year-old boy shoplifting a $.15 browning at 8:00 at night. He called the police, who took the boy to the police station until they could find his mother. The next day, The Oklahoman published the story and poor Frank got all kinds of threatening calls and even received a bomb threat at the grocery store for calling in the police. He later explained that, “I didn’t want to call the police on him…. I just couldn’t let him go back out in the dark, barefoot, in this neighborhood.” With that explanation, the community rallied behind Frank’s decision and everything simmered down.
This sad episode must have taken its toll on Frank, though, because Clyde’s changed hands soon after and was renamed Family Foods. This incarnation of the store stayed in the blighted neighborhood for about a decade before it closed down, ending for good the building’s career as a supermarket. The Salvation Army used the building as a donation site for a few years before Brown’s Bakery moved in and began filling the surrounding area with scents of delicious donuts and treats.
Brown’s was founded in 1946 and was located at 1400 N. Robinson for nearly 50 years before moving into the old Clyde’s space, so it’s definitely one of OKC’s culinary institutions. The move was a smart one since Midtown is once again thriving with residents and visitors and Brown’s Bakery sits right in the middle of it all. Stop by, have a look around, and enjoy the delights!
For more great photos of this building, go to the Mod Blog.