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Downtown Soup Kitchen Again Plans to Relocate

Matt Trotter

A downtown Tulsa soup kitchen is again planning to move, a little more than a year after a previous relocation was denied.

Iron Gate has its sights set on a vacant lot at Seventh Street and Frankfort Avenue. It currently operates out of Trinity Episcopal Church at Fifth Street and Cincinnati Avenue.

The organization has quietly raised $9 million to build a new facility with a bigger kitchen, dining room and warehouse. Executive Director Connie Cronley said Iron Gate’s current home has a dining room that seats only 127 guests.

"We have twice that many every morning, so you see long lines standing outside, and we want to eliminate that," Cronley said. "We want everybody to come in out of the elements with dignity."

Iron Gate tried moving to the Pearl District last year, but the plan was rejected by the Board of Adjustment amid opposition from neighborhood residents and property owners.

Incoming Iron Gate board chair Shaun Saunders said they want to be inside the IDL.

"It wouldn't make much sense to stick us out at, just to pick an intersection, 101st and Memorial. None of our guests live out there. It doesn't make any sense to do that. The need is here in downtown," Saunders said.

In addition to serving a daily meal, Iron Gate distributes groceries to 300 households a week. Mental Health Association Oklahoma Director Michael Brose said not only does Iron Gate help the homeless, but it also serves those in poverty so they don’t lose their homes.

"They're trying to make their ends meet, and sometimes they come up short of food," Brose said. "Where do they turn? They can't go down to the Reasor's and say, 'Hey, would you guys mind handing me a bag of groceries? We can't feed our family.' That's not their business, so where do people go? Iron Gate."

Iron Gate's current relocation plan must be approved by the Board of Adjustment. It will be heard in a meeting Tuesday.