Bringing music and vegan dining to Norman for over 20 years, Opolis is a must-go venue for people of all ages.
The building has a neighborhood concert feel with its garage door access. Once inside, visitors are greeted with a space for socializing: two bars, a seating area and the stage.
Opolis’s table and bar seating encourages conversation among patrons, and it gives visitors the opportunity to interact with business owners. The bar is located at the front of the building, while the tables and chairs are positioned right up to the stage.
Some owners, like Julius, bartend while others handle the sound booth and prepare food.
“We want it to feel like a place where people can come hang out, enjoy a snack or drink and overall just be exposed to living and working artists that are here in the community,” Julius told the OU Daily.
Julius began attending and performing music at Opolis in 2015 and worked shifts with its previous owners, becoming familiar with Opolis’ operations and networks.
Founders Andy and Marian Nuñez opened Opolis in 2002 as a creative space for performers and visitors, owning the company for 20 years before retirement.
When the pair announced their retirement in summer 2022, 10 employees began working to purchase Opolis. Julius joined the co-op as the new year began.
The six owners officially gained ownership in February of this year. Opolis is now the only recognized cooperative music venue in the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.
“Several of us were teenagers playing our first shows here, and it’s hard for any of us to imagine a place like this not existing in Norman,” Julius said.
Since taking over, the new owners have strived to make Opolis an inviting space for those stepping through its doors.
Julius said with the Nuñezes running the venue, hours were more difficult to maintain. Now with six owners, Opolis is open five days a week with daily events to make it more of a hub for families, teenagers and couples.
Opolis hosts open mic nights, karaoke, presentation nights and concerts with past performers including Big Thief, Lucy Dacus and Mitski.
A current performer at Opolis is Brad Hicks, the vocalist for alternative metal band Visions of Afterlife.
Hicks’s first visit to Opolis was on his birthday in 2020 when he and his friends went to sing karaoke.
“Everyone’s super cool with everyone,” Hicks told OU Daily. “You have all these randos in the same room, and everyone’s getting along and cheering each other on.”
Hicks recalled looking around the venue and seeing country fans, rock ‘n’ roll fans and more.
“That’s when I really realized how inclusive it is and that’s why I appreciate (Opolis) so much,” Hicks said.
Hicks knew from that night on he wanted to perform at Opolis, so he quickly became a regular of the venue.
Hicks began popping in and growing friendships with the employees who would later be owners. When Hicks officially asked to bring his band in, he was immediately approved.
Most events at Opolis are free of charge, complimenting its vegan menu with most options under $10. Opolis also offers takeout dinners for those seeking a vegan meal but home entertainment.
Dining options include vegan burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and more, along with beverages such as cocktails, mocktails and soft drinks.
“The previous owner, Marian, always referred to it as vegan comfort food,” Julius said. “It’s based on the school lunch kind of vibe.”
Low prices and high quality entertainment make Opolis enjoyable for the heart and wallet, no matter one’s music preference or age.
“It’s the best place to be if you’re trying to find community and trying to find something interesting that you wouldn’t otherwise see at a venue here downtown,” Julius said.
Opolis is located at 113 N. Crawford Ave. and is open 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday.
Source : OU Daily