We have a lot of burger places in the Oklahoma City metro, but not many places that specialize in hot dogs. The late great Mutts was a fun and different place to eat but now we have Spirals in Norman.
Founded in 2020, this is a hot dog only place but specialty hot dogs. These aren’t the skinny things you can get at Sonic, no, you can get an all-beef frank, a polish sausage, or a hot link. Then pick your toppings, they have several to choose from or you can build your own. My favorite is the Un-Baylee-vable, chili, house mac and cheese, bacon and onion. This hot dog is huge and can be a mess if you don’t know how to eat it. But trust me, it’s worth it. The mix of flavors is just so good. The mac and cheese cooked with spiral noodles really tops it off. They also serve hot dog bowls, I haven’t tried one yet but plan to on a visit. Another favorite is the loaded fries, spiral cut potatoes, deep fried, and smothered with chili, cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream.
Every time I visit the service is good as is the food. They also serve up shaved ice, I haven’t tried it because I’m too stuffed from the meal. They are a bit hard to find the first time, tucked up in a strip mall. But after that you can drive right to it. I give them 5 strips of bacon, hopefully wrapped around one of their dogs.
So I mentioned in my review of The Bookmark Cafe that my daughter, Mae, worked here on her first semester at OU. The Hive is a small cafe in a larger complex called Cross Village. In this same building is Acre Provisions, a grocery store just for college kids, and Basic Knead, a walk-up restaurant that serves pizza and pasta. All 3 spaces run together on the ground floor with apartment-like dorm rooms above.
The Hive is set up the same way The Bookmark Cafe is- they serve different coffee drinks along with light snacks. There is plenty of space to sit, not only indoors but in the outdoors area as well. They are also in Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, so you will get drinks like you find at Starbucks. You will also find students working here as well. All of the times we stopped by in the fall of 2021, we had great service and the drinks were always good. I will also give them 5 strips of bacon. They are located south of Lindsay Street on Asp in the Cross Village complex (southeast of the towers). Can’t really see it from the road, if you find Acre Provisions, it’s around the corner.
Now a bit of the history behind The Hive- Cross Village was opened in the fall of 2018. It was a new concept at OU, the dorm apartments were on the top floors while the ground level was just for restaurants, shops, and other businesses. This was originally to cater to upper-class students at OU. Cross Village is further south of the well-known dorm buildings Walker, Adams, and Couch, so the older students weren’t as close to the younger freshmen. Cross Village took the place of the original Cross Center, “The Men’s Quadrangle” dormitory built in 1952. Cross Center had fallen into disrepair and was mostly used as storage, so then a plan was developed in 2016 to replace the older buildings. Cross Village was supposed to be a public-private collaboration but by the end of the first full school year there were clear problems. Cross Village never filled to full occupancy with only 30 percent of the units rented out to students. With a legal dispute now on the horizon, all restaurants and shops were closed on July 30, 2019. Over the next two school years, there was plenty of legal wrangling and by May 2021 a new entity stepped up to help the university run Cross Village. To get the occupancy up, freshmen were now allowed to move into the new complex. After a two-year absence, all restaurants and shops were able to reopen. The Hive has stayed busy throughout this time, catering to students who live on campus. (If you want a full run down on all the legal and financial information, just Google it. I could write a book with all that went down in the building of Cross Village.)
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you would know that my contributing writer Mae has been absent. Well, she had to get through a rigorous high school schedule and now that she has graduated (PC Pirate class of ’21) she is studying at the great University of Oklahoma (proud 3rd generation Sooner). To help pay for this new adventure in education, she is working for food services as a barista. Her first semester she spent at The Hive, a coffee shop on south campus (more on it in another post) but now she is at The Bookmark Cafe in the first lower level of Bizzell Memorial Library.
This is just a small coffee shop, very similar to the ones you see in bookstores, where they have coffee, lattes, frappuccinos, along with light sandwiches and pastries. Last Sunday was my first visit and I was impressed, the space that had once been where the newspapers and magazines were kept was transformed into a study lounge with separate rooms for groups. Bookmark Cafe has a large area with tables and booths for group or individual study. They are part of Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, where they do serve up the same drinks that you can find at a Starbucks. Many of the pastries are cooked on site with the salads and sandwiches coming from Cow On the Fly. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the food yet, because of the snowstorm the previous week, the food delivery hadn’t come in yet. The double chocolate chip frappuccino that I had was awesome though. The staff is all students, they were all friendly and happy to be at Bookmark.
Now for some history- there was nothing like this when I was a student at OU in the early 1990’s (BA in Journalism, ’94). The coffee shop craze hadn’t hit Oklahoma yet. I guess there were some around but to me, coffee was just something that my grandparents drank. I had never heard of a frappuchino, latte, or macchiato. Bizzell Memorial Library was built in 1928 for the growing university and expanded, first in 1958, then again in 1982. Lower level 1 is part of the 1982 addition. Like I mentioned earlier, it held the periodicals. I used to sit at the microfilm readers and journey through the past with their newspaper collection. The Bookmark Cafe officially opened for the spring semester 1998 to give students a quiet place to study. The official grand opening was held on February 11, 1998 (I didn’t know this information until Wednesday of this week as I was researching, so the fact I’m publishing this on the same date 24 years later is just a coincidence). In August of 2013 construction began to transform the space into the study area it is now, Bookmark Cafe was temporarily moved but returned to its now larger location in September 2014 with a ceremony held on November 7, 2014, to mark the reopening of the lower level. In March 2020, it closed, not to reopen until January 2022.
Overall I will give them 5 strips of bacon, just for the fact that my child works there, but I would like to try more of their menu items. Project for the rest of the semester. So if you find yourself in Norman and near campus, stop into the historic library and grab a treat.