Route 66 News

Plan would demolish Oklahoma City’s Classen Circle

Classen Circle

A chain restaurant submitted plans to the city of Oklahoma City to tear down all the buildings in Classen Circle, which includes Classen Grill and other historic businesses. broke the news Wednesday. Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores, a popular chain in Oklahoma, wants to build a store there.

They have filed to rezone .48 acres which is all the properties bound by Classen, NW 50th and Military Avenue and documents show plans to raze all existing buildings and construct a new Braum’s. […]

The structure housing the HiLo Club and the Drunken Fry was built in 1948 as the Donnay Building and was once home to the old Sidecar Lounge and The Patio restaurant which operated from the mid 50’s to the early 1990’s. HiLo’s website indicates they have been in operation from 1956. Charlie’s Jazz-Rhythm & Blues Records is also a tenant in the building. […]

The Classen Grill building was constructed in 1929 and the restaurant has operated there since 1980.

OKCTalk reports the rezoning plan must be approved by the Oklahoma City Planning Commission. It also says Classen Circle does not sit within any historic district.

The hearing for the rezoning will be Aug. 24.

The story caught on with social media. A Save Classen Circle-Boycott Braums page and Save the Hil-Lo and Drunken Fry page went up on Facebook.

Oklahoma City Ward 2 alderman Ed Shadid also stated his opposition to the project in a Facebook post, calling it “misguided”:

Braum’s is an OK company and should hear from and hopefully respect the will of the people of OKC to preserve what is unique and special to us.

A petition to stop the demolition of Classen Circle had garnered more than 9,600 supporters by mid-morning Thursday.

Attempts by KWTV in Oklahoma City and The Oklahoman newspaper to get a comment from Braum’s were unsuccessful.

A protest is scheduled for today in front of the HiLo Club from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

According to Jim Ross’ “Oklahoma Route 66” book, Classen Circle sat on a 1950s alignment of Route 66. Current-day Oklahoma Highway 66, which is overlaid onto Interstate 44, also sits nearby.

UPDATE 7/14/2017: Several local television stations covered the protest, including this one:, which broke the story, posted a follow-up story, “What Happens Now with Classen Circle?”

And The Lost Ogle, a popular blog based in the Oklahoma City area, often is irreverent but makes this very good point:

I can’t vouch for the historical significance of the area, but you can’t deny the Donnay Building is a culturally significant landmark. It was one of the first LGBT friendly parts of town. The community should have a voice and say about what happens to it.

(Image of Classen Circle in Oklahoma City via page)


4 thoughts on “Plan would demolish Oklahoma City’s Classen Circle

  1. Eric Hayman

    Is Oklahoma City so small that Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores cannot build a store elsewhere? Or is it just another example of “The Almighty Dollar Rules”?

  2. wanderingseniors

    No! Why do so many businesses have to tear down revered buildings to build something with no soul? This is so wrong.

  3. Pingback: Hearing delayed to rezone Classen Circle in Oklahoma City - Route 66 News

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