Sapulpa City Council approves new incentive to entice more restaurants to open downtown

The Sapulpa City Council unanimously approved a new economic development incentive to entice new restaurants or other food service establishments to open in downtown Sapulpa at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The new incentive will rebate one-half of all city sales tax that qualified food service establishments accumulate for a period of three years, to be capped at $50,000.

Sapulpa’s Economic Development Director Mark Lawson says that the incentive is exactly what the city needs to fulfill certain goals in the Downtown Master Plan. 

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“The Downtown Master Plan made it clear that people want to see more of a nightlife in downtown, including more restaurants, and to have them be open later,” he said while presenting the incentive to the City Council.

The incentive was first discussed in the Community and Economic Development Committee on May 25th. At the time, all of the committee members present—who are all city councilors as well—were in favor of the incentive, though there was some discussion about how much and how long it would last, as well as who should qualify.

Ultimately, the committee determined that the rebate should apply to new and existing food service providers in the “core area” of downtown that report as Full-Service Restaurants, Limited-Service Restaurants, and Snack and Non-Alcoholic services. That would include CTX Coffee (114 E. Dewey), GiGi’s Gourmet Popcorn (12 E. Dewey) and the upcoming “My Table Restaurant” slated to open this summer at 215 E. Dewey. Crossroads Cookery (117 E. Dewey), would not qualify because although it would be a full-service restaurant, it is already participating in another economic development incentive from the City.

The incentive also only applies to “brick-and-mortar” eateries, meaning food trucks or temporary pop-up-style shops would not qualify.

Restaurants that fall outside of the “core area” of downtown would also not qualify. According to the Downtown Master Plan, the “Downtown Core Area” is from Poplar Street to Oak Street, and from Lee Ave. to the railroad tracks north of Hobson Ave. This means that restaurants like Señor Pablo’s and Patriot Cafe would not qualify, though they are both located on Dewey Ave. and might be considered by some to be “downtown.”

Lawson says he hopes the incentive will add to the momentum that’s already happening downtown. “I’m excited about the progress we are seeing in the downtown area,” he said. “The alleyway projects are well underway, several renovations are taking place, and there is lots of buzz in our downtown. This incentive builds on that momentum to bring eating options our citizens are hoping to see.”

The proposed incentive passed unanimously and will start on July 1st and end at the end of June 2025. Qualified vendors will have to enter into a written incentive agreement with the City in order to take advantage.