Bartlesville native and longtime businessman Mark Spencer wants to expand his food production and retailing operation with the launch of a butchery, creamery and bakery enterprise.
He is looking to restore the long-vacant, historic Crystal Creamery facility at 515 W. Frank Phillips Blvd. He has secured the right to purchase the 13,500-square-foot facility for $165,000 and plans to sell Angus beef raised on his cattle ranch, and French-style yogurt produced in Nowata in addition to ice cream and other dairy products plus a bakery.
Under Spencer’s umbrella, this division also will be developing, producing and offering provisions such as sauces, jams, rubs and seasonings.
Spencer approached the Bartlesville Development Authority with his concept approximately two weeks ago to inquire about the group’s potential interest in assisting with the project, said Jared Patton with the BDA.
“The proposed location is badly deteriorated,” Patton said. “Spencer’s architect, Ambler Architects, is familiar with the facility having evaluated a renovation for a previous, similar use which ultimately did not move forward.”
Ambler estimates it will take approximately $2 million for restoration, he said.
Patton said from a purely financial/business operation standpoint, it would likely be more cost efficient to build new or locate the business in an existing facility that is in better condition. Outside of significant involvement from the BDA, it would not likely be feasible to pursue the former Crystal Creamery facility.
However, because of a perceived value to the community, and Spencer’s brand, for restoring the iconic, high-visibility structure on the west side, the BDA sees the project as worthwhile.
“From BDA’s standpoint, the recent sale of the ABB facility has provided substantial cash earmarked for investment in new, brick-and-mortar opportunities, Patton said. “As Spencer’s plan is primarily a food processing operation (manufacturing), it would traditionally rank as a high-value opportunity for BDA – particularly as it is outside of the energy sector, thus supporting diversification.”
Crystal Creamery goes back to Harry H. McClintock, who arrived in Bartlesville in October 1902 to establish a men’s clothing and haberdashery store. After he determined that the town was not ready for a men’s clothing store, he and his partner decided to go into the ice and cold-storage business.
Their plant was completed in the spring of 1903 and was named Crystal Ice and Cold Storage Co. Harry and wife, Myrtle, played an important part in Bartlesville’s cultural development, as well as its religious and economic affairs. About 1950, the old Glencliff Dairy was added to the company and it became known as Crystal Creamery and by the brand name of Top Hand Dairies.