Blake Ewing

My Side of the Story

Regarding Joe Momma’s

Posted on July 12, 2015

A little over ten years ago, we opened a place called Joe Momma’s​ next to some batting cages at All Star Sports Complex. After trying and failing to drum up support and investors for a downtown location, I cobbled together $20,000 from my savings and from friends and family to open a small little pizza shop in south Tulsa. I was just hoping to prove myself there as a first step towards opening downtown, which had been my dream. I felt like if I could make that work, I might be able to convince people that it could work downtown. Remember, most people weren’t so optimistic about downtown Tulsa back then.

Looking back, it’s probably a good thing it went like it did, as I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I learned a lot those first few years. I learned how to repair drywall, do basic plumbing and electrical, and fix an oven and a mixer. I learned bookkeeping and even learned how to be a better manager (still working on this one). I was dumb and stubborn and probably a real mess to be around a lot of the time.

After years of failing and learning and improving, by some miracle, we opened in downtown Tulsa in 2008. Again, even my most stubborn resolve was no match for my overwhelming inexperience, which had us constantly figuring it out on the fly. Joe Momma’s should have failed a thousand times, and it would have, if not for the support of an incredible group of employees and some very encouraging investors.

We’ve seen wonderful times in our ten years.We’ve supported employees as they’ve left the nest to launch their own concepts. We’ve celebrated a national TV appearance and have enjoyed our front row seat to the revitalization of Tulsa’s downtown.We’ve seen staff marriages and even babies. We’ve also seen loss. We’ve cried with our family as we’ve lost loved ones and have been there for each other through life’s harsher seasons. The restaurant business is unique. It’s full of highs and lows, and the nature of the work and the culture surrounding it builds life-long friendships. The thing is, restaurants are about people. That’s why I got into this business. That’s why us restaurant people do it. We love working with our friends and making things together. We love the immediate satisfaction of making something for someone and seeing them enjoy it. It is a business built for artists and creative people, but mostly, it’s just a business that’s all about serving and loving human beings. Not many things are more intimate than sharing food and drink.

At my best, I’ve remembered that and have worked to invest in, encourage and support those people. At my worst, I’ve been caught up in the newest crisis or the next project, or the frustration and depression of an overly busy life and forgotten that it’s always about the people first. I am, after all, a person, prone to the messes and mistakes as anyone else, and definitely prone to allowing my emotions to overrule my true intent. The funny thing is, when you’re in it with people, they’ll definitely see your flaws, but they’ll also experience your humanity. Labels and assumptions fall apart when we know each other and grace and understanding have room to prevail.

Last week, Joe Momma’s had a fire. It’s not devastation, but it’s pretty bad. It’s going to take a little while to rebuild the space. The community has been overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve enjoyed reading the stories of people who went on first dates and got engaged and even married there, who celebrated milestones, and built family traditions at Joe Momma’s – the stories about people.

Our building will never be the same. The artist in me that likes to decorate and renovate isn’t that bummed about that. I’ll enjoy the work of building it back. The unique blessing in this is that our people will also never be the same. Our staff has come together, worked hard, and gotten their hands dirty. I’ve enjoyed hearing from former employees, calling to lend a hand or wish us a speedy recovery, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know a wave of employees that frankly, I didn’t know very well. See, I used to work in the kitchen or at the expo or as a host or whatever. When we were a smaller company and before I ran for public office, I was more directly involved with the day to day of the business. I knew everyone in the restaurant well at one time. We hung out at each other’s houses. We went out after work together. As we grew and as my profile became a public one, I started to close off. The more beat up I got in the paper’s comment section or on facebook or by the cool kid regulars at downtown bars that were “downtown before me,” the more I subconscously hid away. The events of my life these last few years helped turn me into more of a recluse, and I’ve lost touch with people a bit. The fire has been a reminder that the real loss for me isn’t my restaurant, it’s the relationships in the restaurant. That was the reason I got into this business. That was why I ran for office, even. I wanted to help people and I wanted to help make Tulsa a great city for our young creative people.

So yes, the fire is sad. The down-time is frustrating, but we’ll build it back and we’ll be better than ever, because loss has a way of bringing people together, and I’m excited to build it back with the people I’ve got and to do it together with them. I’m so grateful to all of the people who have been a part of our success along the way. Thank you to my family for sticking with me, to my partners for believing in me and for your patience with me, and to all of my incredible employees for your work, your investment, your time, your ideas, and your resolve. We’ll do even better the next time around.

Thanks,
Blake

P.S. I’ll put a few pictures of the inside of the space on facebook or instagram for you morbid and curious souls. Here’s one to tide you over. It’s not pretty!

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Endorsements!

Posted on June 24, 2014

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“Blake uses his intellect and business sense to make great decisions to move our city forward. His ability to communicate with other Councilors and his constituents has helped with making decisions in getting information out to the public and from the public.‬”

– Karen Gilbert

Current Chair Tulsa City Council

 

‪”Ewing has been a leader on the City Council. He is unafraid to ask the questions that need to be asked of The Mayor and department heads. As we approach the adoption of a new zoning code, Tulsa’s historic neighborhoods need a representative at the table who understands land use and planning issues.”‬

– Michael Bates

Batesline.com

 

‪”We’re like a family. We may not always agree, but at the end of the day we love and respect each other. Councilor Ewing is a dedicated servant to our city and has shown he has the energy to serve his district well. Serving the city is the top priority for The Council and when pursuing that outcome, we’re a great team.”‬

– Jeannie Cue

Tulsa City Councilor District 2

 

“Blake brings common sense and a strong, creative business mind to The City Council. We don’t often get the chance to enjoy the perspective that entrepreneurs bring to public service. We should consider ourselves lucky that Blake is wiling to sacrifice time away from his successful businesses to serve the city. Tulsa is better for having had him in office.”

– Cason Carter

Former Tulsa City Councilor District 9

 

“Blake isn’t afraid to take a stand to defend the interests of his constituents. He’s repeatedly stood in the face of strong pressure to do the right thing, even when it meant upsetting influential people, companies, or politicians. I will always respect a man who does what he believes to be right, even when it could endanger his political career. I trust that the citizens of Tulsa will continue to recognize and appreciate this as well.”

– Rick Westcott

Former Tulsa City Councilor District 2

Mike Craddock E…

Posted on June 23, 2014

Mike Craddock Endorsement: “Blake is a breath of fresh air in politics, bringing a common sense, business minded approach to local government. He is a visionary entrepreneur who has worked hard to create jobs and establish opportunities for young people in our community.” – Mike Craddock Past President Tulsa Republican Club

A letter of support from G.T. Bynum

Posted on June 23, 2014

I’m honored to have the support of my colleague, G.T. Bynum. I’ve looked up to him since before I began my time on The Tulsa City Council. His thoughtful, conservative approach to governance has helped shape our city. His leadership as the chair of the Improve Our Tulsa campaign and of this year’s budget committee are just a couple examples of his important impact on Tulsa. I’m proud to serve with him.

During this campaign, it has been suggested that I’m not a “team player.” I can’t think of a better way to refute that ridiculous suggestion than to share with you the support of the people who are actually on my “team.” Councilor Bynum served as our Council Chair my first year on the Council and can speak first hand about the teamwork your entire City Council employs in our day to day. Thank you, Councilor Bynum, for your support and for your leadership. You make our city a better place.

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Family, Friends & Neighbors:

We’ve seen that elections make a big difference in the tone and focus at City Hall. Over the last three years, we’ve enjoyed one of the best periods of Mayor-Council collaboration since the City changed to this form of government in 1990. We have faced tough issues, and we haven’t always agreed, but as a group of elected officials we’ve respected our individual differences on any given issue and moved on to the next one after the debate is settled. The constant petty bickering that made our City government a statewide embarrassment is a thing of the past.

A big reason for this change is your city councilor. Councilor Blake Ewing is the ideal that, as Republicans, we hope for in our elected leaders: a citizen legislator instead of a professional politician.

Blake Ewing is first and foremost an entrepreneur. He started out with one pizza restaurant at a baseball complex in South Tulsa, and has grown that into a sprawling consumer enterprise that helped spark the revitalization of both Downtown Tulsa and the Pearl District.

I can’t tell you how important it is to have someone on the City Council who actually issues a payroll for hundreds of employees, who risked his own money to grow a business, who understands the importance of long-range planning and creative problem solving. Blake brings all of these assets to the table whenever an important issue comes before the Council.

Blake’s greatest “weakness” stems from his no-nonsense business background: when he believes people are playing political games he isn’t shy about pointing it out. He’s called me out when I’ve been guilty of it, and I’m a better public servant because of it. Unfortunately, this has made him some powerful enemies and those interests are now opposing him in the current election.

Unlike pretty much every piece of mail you will get between now and election day, I am not writing to ask you for a financial contribution to Blake’s campaign or even asking that you put a sign in your yard. I am sending you this letter purely because I think it is important that you know what an outstanding city councilor you have in Blake Ewing. I don’t get to vote for him on June 24, but I hope you will.

Best Regards,

G.T. Bynum

Tulsa City Councilor

 

Please Vote June 24th

Posted on June 20, 2014

Greetings fellow Tulsan,

 

As you may know, we are only days away from our June 24th election. With headlines consumed with national races, police negotiations and the city’s budget, you may not know that the coming election includes a City Council primary.

 

This lack of intrigue in the council races has caused the typical campaign spotlights to dim. Many have found other things with which to occupy themselves and the City’s water coolers are absent some of the usual campaign conversations. With such a short time to go, it’s important to give our District 4 race some attention.

 

I’ve chosen to run again for City Council because I believe that we have an important opportunity to continue the excellent work and collaborative spirit Tulsans have enjoyed over the past few years. With the recent passage of the popular Improve Our Tulsa package and more and more new development in District 4 neighborhoods, the momentum is strong and getting stronger. I’ve been honored to be a part of shaping our city and want to continue that effort.

 

I believe I have brought a new perspective to City Hall and that my profession as an entrepreneur and business owner has prepared me to be a valuable contributor to the conversation as we’ve dealt with a number of governmental issues that carry strong parallels to what I see every day in my personal career. I would like to continue to offer that perspective and to challenge our government to make the types of balanced and forward thinking decisions I’m expected to make in my businesses.

 

Tulsa is moving in the right direction, but so are many of our peer cities. We need a continued focus on improving our quality of life, strengthening our economy, and bolstering our infrastructure to remain competitive. It’s important that we continue to be seen as a wonderful place to live, be it to raise a family, find a career, or start a business. For Tulsa to achieve its wonderful potential, we need strong leadership that is willing to challenge the status quo and demand better for our future. Should you vote to re-elect me to office, I will continue to be that voice in our local government.

 

No matter what happens on June 24th, there’s still a lot to do and a great community to build. A city’s future isn’t decided on its election days. It’s decided every day. I ask you to join me in challenging our Tulsa to aspire to new heights and in working to get us there. Tulsa was built by the bold, the curious, the passionate and the relentless. It deserves nothing less from us now. Thank you for your continued support and for striving to make Tulsa the best it can be.

 

Again, please mark you calendar now and vote for me on June 24th.

 

If you’d like a campaign sign or to find out more information, please visit http://www.blakefortulsa.com.

 

Best regards,

Blake Ewing

 

 

“I want to go o…

Posted on June 20, 2014

“I want to go on record endorsing Blake Ewing for District 4 City Council. Blake has worked effectively, representing not only District 4, but all of Tulsa.

It is always good to see a candidate who is not afraid of a debate or a town hall meeting. Blake has shown an exemplary standing in all areas of leadership leading me to believe in him.

Without any hesitation, Blake Ewing is the best candidate for District 4 City Council.”

Francisco J. Treviño
President and CEO
Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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