Christopher A. Lower '74
Casady Alumni Achievement Award 2014Restaurant EntrepreneurOklahoma City, OK
Christopher A. Lower was a “lifer” at Casady School, starting in kindergarten and graduating in the Class of 1974. After finishing at Casady, Chris attended Grinnell College in Iowa and graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis on journalism. He was the editor of the weekly student newspaper during his senior year at Grinnell.
During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he “stumbled into” the restaurant business as a favor to a Casady classmate who was working at a local restaurant. Having never been in a restaurant kitchen or ever having contemplated working in a restaurant, Chris agreed to fill in for her in the kitchen so she could take a few days off. That short experience, followed by the next summer in the same restaurant got Chris hooked on the idea of a career in the business. After graduation from Grinnell he returned to Oklahoma City and worked in upscale restaurants for two years before opening The Roosevelt Grill in Edmond with the help of his family in 1980. Chris operated the restaurant until 1984, when he sold it to Vince Orza who opened his first restaurant in the same location.
After taking a year off to study his options and travel to research fine dining restaurants around the country, Chris opened the Coach House in 1985. Chris has always enjoyed the design process, the menu planning process and the sales and marketing aspects of the business. He has also worked to create service training programs and incentives to reward great service and high performance in the kitchens and dining rooms. The part he enjoys most, however, is seeing his guests enjoy themselves at his places of business.
The Coach House quickly became known for its great food and service and has been an integral part of many important occasions, celebrations, and special events in the life of the Oklahoma City community. Three years after opening the Coach House, Chris partnered with his wife LaVeryl and Chef Kurt Fleischfresser to open The Metro Wine Bar in 1988. After opening The Metro, he partnered with others to open a series of restaurants that would become Oklahoma City dining destinations, including The Iguana Lounge, Portobello, The Ground Floor Cafe, The Deep Fork Grill, The Museum Cafe as well as restaurants in Norman and Tulsa.
Chris was hands-on at The Coach House until 2004, when he sold his interest to his chef-partner Kurt Fleischfresser. Chris continues to operate The Metro and has teamed up with new partners to open Big Truck Tacos, Mutts Amazing Hot Dogs, Back Door Barbecue and opening in the Fall, Pizzeria Gusto, all in the quickly reviving Uptown district of NW 23rd Street. Chris enjoys traveling and finding unique restaurants that inspire him to return to his home town and create new dining experiences for his friends and patrons.
Chris currently serves on the board of the Uptown 23rd Association and was a founder and longtime board member of the Western Avenue Association. Chris was awarded an “Oklahoma Treasure” award by the Presbyterian Health Foundation in 2002. Chris lives in Oklahoma City with his wife LaVeryl and has a son, Sam Lower, who is a senior at OU this year.