What was once Tulsa’s first ever drive-thru bank, is now the second restaurant for Chef/Owner Libby Auld and her husband Jeramy Auld. The Vault, a 1950s inspired restaurant and bar is located in the former First National Bank at Sixth and Cincinnati. Most Tulsans know the Aulds from Elote Café & Catering, which Libby opened at 5th & Boston in May of 2008.
With the success of Elote and the Luchador wrestling events the Aulds brought to downtown Tulsa, Jeramy suggested that they should explore opening a second restaurant.
“I’m definitely blaming him for this chaos, but I’m on board and it is a lot of fun,” jokes Libby.
After looking at several locations, Libby and Jeramy decided to take a look at the old Auto Bank in December of 2011. Though they passed by the space for three years and noticed the small “For Lease” sign in the window, Jeramy first discounted it as an option due to the fact that it is set so far back from the street. He quickly changed his mind when the couple toured the building.
“Once we were in it for the first time, we realized it was meant to be,” says Libby of their decision to turn the mid-century modern bank lobby into a restaurant and bar.
Many features in the building are original. The original walnut woodwork was uncovered from behind sheetrock and the downstairs bar is the old teller line. There are two bar-height tables up against the two-story floor-to-ceiling windows that were used for endorsing checks, and the original bank vault is still in the building.
Upstairs is the “Tom Tom Room,” which is named for the yearbook of the old Central High School that was once across the street. The mid-century modern feel has been kept throughout from the furniture and décor, to the vintage 50s glassware (sourced from flea markets and garage sales) and the “hostess” aprons worn by the servers.
The menu is also inspired by the cuisine of the times. Libby says she picked up a copy of a 1950s Better Homes and Gardens guide to cooking and entertaining, and has taken some of the recipes from that era and finetuned them to fit today’s palate. Since Libby herself is a vegetarian, it was important to her to offer plenty of selections for vegetarian diners as well as their carnivorous counterparts. Her spin on Moussaka is more of a casserole, a classic 1950s dish. Her favorite dessert on the menu is the Pineapple Upside-down Cake.
They make three different varieties of pickles in-house, and create pretzels from the spent grains from Marshall Brewing Company. Of course, no 1950s inspired restaurant menu would be complete without the classic Malt. Libby said it was also important to her to have a menu that fits many budgets. Sandwiches are $8-$9, and Main Plates range $11-$29, most being on the lower end of the price range.
The bar features a fantastic selection of hand-crafted cocktails and is managed by Libby’s longtime friend Jenny Bradley, who moved back to Tulsa from upstate New York to open The Vault. The cocktail list is a mix of classic and modern, and revives some long forgotten favorites.
Classic cocktails are back, but this time with a focus on exceptional quality and craft. It’s been going on in big cities for a decade or so, and now it’s popping up all over Tulsa. The Gimlet, Manhattan and Sidecar are no longer your Grandparents’ drinks. They’ve got a fresh (literally) new look since many “mixologists” as they are most often referred to have left behind the brightly colored, corn syrup-laden mixes and instead are opting for fresh pressed juices, house-made infusions and real sugar syrups.
Many classics are getting a modern twist. The “Lovely Rita” is made with house-made beet syrup. The “Japanese” according to Bradley, is a “Suped-up Sidecar” using Orgeat, an almond flavored syrup instead of Cointreau, and lime juice in place of the traditional lemon. The “Oaxacan Old Fashioned” is a modern spin with the addition of (chocolate) Mole bitters.
Bradley says she sees bartenders looking at cocktails in more of a “culinary way,”and treating the recipes with the care and attention to detail they would use to create the perfect dish. Amanda Simcoe is a chef and culinary instructor. Also known as The Cheese Wench, she loves to travel, experience different local cuisines and is passionate about using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. She is a producer and co-host of KRMG’s OKfoodie radio show and hosts two new cooking shows on GalleyCuisineTV.com.
620 S. Cincinnati, Tulsa
Hours Mon-Thurs: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.;
• The Tom Tom Room is always open late
• Free parking in upper parking lot