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Owner of Track 61 Brings NYC Style to Oxford's Food Scene

Photo courtesy of Track 61.

Adjacent to some of the most popular restaurants in the Midtown Shopping Center on North Lamar is the latest addition to Oxford’s unique food scene, Track 61.

Owner Brooke Krizbai opened the Italian-inspired, New York City-styled restaurant last month. Her dream for Track 61 started when the former Baptist Memorial Hospital Rehab space became available more than a year ago.
“My absolute favorite [Italian restaurant] is TriBecca Allie, but it is so far out,” Krizbai said. “I thought if Oxford could have something like TriBecca Allie that would be great.”
TriBecca Allie is an Italian-inspired pizza restaurant located in Sardis, Mississippi, and Krizbai wanted to rival those familiar tastes of Italy within the Oxford city limits.
Yet Krizbai didn’t want to be part of the norm. Just like the eccentric nature of her first restaurant, Volta Taverna, Track 61’s vibe is different from other Oxford pizza establishments like its inclusion of the Sinatra Bar, a coffee and breakfast lounge, which has plans to open soon.
Also, Oxford’s restaurant scene rarely allows for large parties to be seated in a comfortable dining setting, especially for those looking to host special events. Krizbai said most event spaces are limited to The Lyric, The Powerhouse and Southside Art Gallery. Track 61 plans to add its name to that list by hosting a separate dining room that can seat 25 people, along with a room for special events that can seat up to 100 people.
Inspiration for the restaurant’s name came from an abandoned railway underneath the streets of New York, according to Track 61’s website. Track 61 is the underground railroad station located under the Big Apple’s historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It is rumored President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the station to enter the city, along with pop culture icon Andy Warhol who used it to host a private party in 1995.

Track 61’s Menu and Space Inspiration

Photo courtesy of Track 61.

Krizbai had more time than usual to plan her latest endeavor as she waited for Track 61’s current space to open. With ample time on her hands, she flew to New York City for inspiration, taking cooking classes and working hand-in-hand with her consulting chef, Becca Richards. The duo cooked for four days straight using recipes which would soon fill the plates at Track 61.
With its black walls, graffiti artwork of pop culture figures — like Biggie Smalls and Audrey Hepburn — and vivacious music, Track 61 embodies an urban feel, similar to the streets of New York City.
“All of the graffiti art is actual graffiti in New York City,” she said. “The Audrey graffiti is in Little Italy.”

Food is Her Calling

Although this isn’t Krizbai’s first rodeo opening a restaurant, its been a completely different process, she said. This time it was her own finances producing the project. Luckily, her experience dates back to her days of working for Randy Yates, owner of Ajax Dinner, while finishing her degree at Ole Miss.
Yet Krizbai didn’t cut her teeth in the restaurant business. She started working at a hedge fund in New Jersey after graduation, but she said the career wasn’t suited for her.
“I’m not a corporate America gal,” Krizbai said. “So I came back and got my master’s in business to try to figure out what I was doing in the meantime.”
After receiving her MBA, Krizbai rejoined Yates to open Volta Taverna. She purchased the restaurant two years later.
“It’s a very risky business,” she said, “But it’s the only thing I know how to do.”

By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at talbert.toole@hottytoddy.com.

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