Three friends made the decision to open a place for the people of Norman to have a good time, no matter what the celebration.
Stephanie Traw, Tina Hughes and Debby Major opened The Abbey event center, located at 1309 24th Ave SW, in June. They haven’t started advertising yet, but already they have held 15 events in the 5,000 square foot building.
The trio have been friends for several years and have gone into business together before. They own and operate The Ole Stable Market Place, which is right next door to The Abbey
Traw and Hughes have owned The Abbey event center for four years, but it recently opened to the public in June for birthday parties, weddings/rehearsals, company parties, lectures/classes/seminars, pop-up shops, fraternity and sorority parties, baby showers, anniversaries, direct sales events or anything a Norman resident wants to celebrate.
“We are open for any kind of event, and we welcome anything as long as it’s respectful,” Hughes said.
Majors is the general manager for both The Abbey and The Ole Stable Market Place, and she said with both establishments, their main goal is to bring life back to this corner of town. She said they love what they do, and they just want to bring Norman together.
“Before we got into The Ole Stable Market, this area had been vacant for about seven years,” Traw said. “So, people weren’t even used to anything being over here…I think this area needs to be revitalized.”
The brick building resembles a castle, and Rick Sinnett, local muralist, painted a rainbow and black and white mural on front of the building with the rainbow aiming towards each letter of The Abbey in the battlements of the building. Recently remodeled, the inside is a wide open space for any event, with a stage toward the back, lights strung up above, a bar at the front and room for tables and chairs.
“I think it will be a great place for family and other things,” Hughes said. “Hopefully we can bring people together in Norman and they can have a place to go and have fun other than going to a smokey bar. I want to have things for kids like plays and birthday parties.”
Traw said her father has owned properties in Norman for years, and he originally bought The Abbey and rented it out, but it didn’t take off. Hughes and Traw said they never want it to become a bar, they do have a liquor license for people who want to have a cash bar or stock it themselves during an event.
“So, I thought I need to do something with it, because being a bar wasn’t really what we wanted,” Traw said. “We decided to do an event center, and we think that’s the best use for the building.”
Pricing depends on the day, time, how long the space is rented for or if the customer wants additional items, such as tables and chairs. Traw said they have a base price for weekend nights at $1,250, and then the price fluctuates depending on what customers want from there.
However, $1,250 would not be the base price for a two-hour baby shower, for example, so Traw and Majors said it really just depends on what the customer wants to do. Security is required for events, but The Abbey can provide bar staff and recommend catering options.
“It gets kind of tricky, because if someone wanted to have a two-hour bridal shower over there, it’s not going to be the same for someone who wants to rent it for the whole evening and have a band,” Majors said.
The building carries quite a bit of history with it, Major said. When it was known as The Blue Onion in the 60s and 70s, it was a hub for bands traveling to Austin, Texas that would stop here and play. She said she doesn’t want to say any big names for sure until she does her research, but she’s been told that big bands came through around that time to play before they got their start.
“We are thrilled about that. We love music, we all do,” Majors said.
It’s been a music venue forever, Traw said. Good or bad, bands of every genre have played in there at some point, and that’s a tradition they want to keep going.
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe how many people come through our doors that have partied over [at The Abbey] or in [The Ole Stable Market Place] too,” Majors said. “A lot of college kids came here then and now they are older, in their 60s and 70s, but they come in here and say, ‘Oh, we used to have so much fun in here.’”
Majors said people coming in and sharing their memories set something off in all of them, and they wanted to provide that kind of place for the community again. They want The Abbey to be a place that’s safe, fun and enjoyed by everyone.
She said in the past, the place had been a couple of bars with a not-so-great reputation, but that’s not what Traw wanted for the community or her family. When Traw and Hughes took over ownership, it was important for them to make the event center a place where people could come together and do happier things.
“We hope it will be a family friendly environment where people can get together and have a good time, whether it’s music or parties or get togethers,” Traw said. “It’s a great place to come together.”
She said there’s so much potential at The Abbey, and they are open to renting it out to any event possible. During the day they have talked about renting it out for yoga or zumba classes, and in the future they plan to host laid back events for the public where bands and food trucks can attend at their leisure.
“The potential is what I’m excited about, because its endless and we have met so many nice people along the way,” Majors said. “That’s the exciting part is what people will bring.”
The Abbey and The Ole Stable Market Place both have ample parking, which Major said they hope to use for farmers markets and around the holidays for pumpkin and Christmas tree sales.
“We are hoping to become big, and be a good place for people to come and have a good time,” Hughes said.
Hughes said they have received nothing but compliments for both places The Old Stable Market and The Abbey. She said they have intentions to grow, but for now they are happy that their customers want to come back and book events with them.
For anyone wanting to book an event at The Abbey or take a facility tour call 405-694-6088 for a reservation or visit their Facebook page.