Local Business

Published on January 4th, 2018 | by Nature Humphries


Local Favorite Brooke Krizbai Wins Awards, Preps New Italian Restaurant Track 61

Although restaurants come and go so quickly we sometimes have a hard time keeping track, there are plenty of mainstays that have been serving the local community for many years. One of our longtime favorites is Volta Taverna, which opened in 2005 and has been going strong ever since. Ajax Diner owner Randy Yates asked his good friend Brooke Krizbai (formerly Boral) to run the new place with him. Krizbai later bought the business from Yates and has since maintained one of Oxford’s most successful restaurants. Volta features Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and serves Oxford’s Favorite Margarita on Oxford’s Favorite Patio (both categories have swept the Townies for four years running).

Now, Brooke has plans for a new venture: a casual Italian American restaurant called Track 61, set to open this spring in the Midtown Shopping Center where the Baptist Rehab Center used to be. We chatted with Brooke and Becca to get the scoop on this highly anticipated new eatery, and now we all have something amazing to look forward to in 2018! 

Tell us a little bit about your background: where you grew up, your years in New Jersey, and how you came to settle in Oxford.

Brooke: I’ve lived in Texas, Florida, Indiana, (Madison) Mississippi, four cities in New Jersey, and Oxford. I loved living in Mississippi so much that I came back for college. After undergrad, I worked at a hedge fund company in Princeton, New Jersey for two years and then returned to Ole Miss for my Master’s degree in business. I’ve been in the restaurant industry since I was 18 and worked at Ajax Diner throughout [college]. In 2005, Randy Yates asked me to run Volta with him.

What is the significance of the name, Track 61?

Track 61 is a secret train track under the Waldorf Astoria in New York City that was built for private train cars to enter directly into the hotel where they could take a private freight elevator directly into the building.

General John Pershing was the first to use this secret track during World War I. FDR used the track to conceal his paralysis from the public when he traveled to New York in 1944. Rumor has it that Andy Warhol threw an underground party there in 1965. The track was also prepped for a visit by George W Bush when he attended a meeting at the hotel. Fun fact: it takes seven minutes to get from track 61 to JFK Airport.

What is special about New York–style Italian food?

If you’ve ever traveled to NYC, you know how good the food is. It’s not a trip to New York without at least one Italian meal. NYC knows how to do Italian cuisine.

Can you tell us a little bit about the menu?

The menu is going to be casual Italian American with some wonderful wines and cocktails. I am working on building recipes for the menu with chef Becca Richards. The menu will be mostly dishes that are not offered in Oxford, and there will be a kids’ menu, as well.

What sort of experience can diners expect?

The atmosphere is going to be a fun, casual urban feel with some awesome eye candy on the walls. It’s a place that you can come to in gym clothes or dress up for a date night. The experience is meant to be comfortable, friendly, and delicious.

What is Becca Richard’s Oxford connection?

Becca and I worked at Ajax together back in the day where we became good friends. She later worked at Yocona River Inn and continued her cooking career in New York. I had the pleasure of having her cook a meal for me at Flex Mussels in NYC, and it was the best meal of my life. She is currently the executive chef at Stoller Winery in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Becca will be coming to Oxford to help me open and get the kitchen staff trained on the recipes. You will find us giggling and telling old Ajax stories when we aren’t focused on getting the food out during a rush.

When will the restaurant be open?

There is a lot of renovation involved in the building, so I’m shooting to be open the end of March or first week in April. I am very excited to bring a new dining experience to Oxford, and I’m working hard to make it happen as soon as possible.

Becca Richards: I worked in New York at some very exciting restaurants, including Lincoln Ristorante, Union Square Cafe, and the Lion, all of which had a modern American approach to Italian in all its forms. I was super lucky to work for all those great chefs and iconic shops. I also spent the better part of four years with Flex Mussels and graduated from the French Culinary Institute in SoHo Manhattan.

I got my start cooking with Yocona River Inn and worked for Paige [Osborn] until I went from a prep cook to her sous chef. When OG Yocona burned down, I cooked in the Ajax kitchen (where I had pretty much always waited tables—and met “Meatcakes” Boral who would grow up into Brooke Krizbai—and also bartended at The Lyric. Oxford was fun and gave me an interesting tilt on my style as I moved to New York.

I am currently on the West Coast where I am the culinary director for Stoller Family Estate in Dundee, Oregon; the private chef for the Stahancyk, Kent, and Hook law firm in downtown Portland; and, best of all, consulting chef for Track 61.

I think Brooke has a cool clear vision of how she wants this shop, and I am gonna come on down and help her launch the menu when we get some building done. I look forward to seeing everyone in a couple months!

Track 61 is hiring all positions. Applications can be filled out in person at Volta. Applicants for kitchen manager and floor manager positions can email their resumes to tracksixtyone@outlook.comThe Local Voice Ligature


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About the Author

is Editor-in-Chief of The Local Voice media company. Nature is originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, but moved to Oxford in 2004 after spending time in the United States Navy. She also worked in the restaurant industry for many years as a Server and a Bartender. Nature graduated from Ole Miss in 2007 with a degree in English and Modern Languages.

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