Flippin' for Flip's
Betsy Mischke and Gail Vines
Throughout the past three decades, a little Italian restaurant has quietly established itself as an Oklahoma City mainstay. Red and white checked tablecloths cover furniture that is older than the restaurant itself. In the daytime, ample natural light swings through the east facing windows, and at night, the dining room becomes darkened and intimate as couples share bottles of red wine over a quiet meal. When the weather is pleasant, the patio enables guests to enjoy al fresco pizza or cocktails. Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria offers a cherished place to relax with friends and loved ones, whatever the time of day or occasion.
For the majority of the restaurant’s life, two women, Betsy Mischke and Gail Vines, have run it in a 50/50 partnership. The namesake, however, comes from one of the original founders. “There actually is a person named Flip, and I used to be married to him,” Betsy explains. “When we were young and in college, and even before liquor by the drink was legal in Oklahoma, he was a collector of wine. His last name is Sanfilippo, and that’s where he got his nickname, Flip.”
Flip is of Sicilian descent, and his grandmother’s red meat sauce recipe is still served to this day. And that’s not the only authentic offering at the trattoria. Most of the pasta is made fresh in-house with an old-fashioned machine, and all the sauces are prepared from scratch.
Betsy has prioritized healthful eating for quite some time, and therefore has made sure the menu accommodates people who have different dietary needs or desires. “When you eat here, it’s gonna be freshly made, freshly prepared. There are always tons of fresh veggies, raw veggies that we could make up whatever someone could possibly desire who’s on a specialized diet,” she affirms. With gluten-free pasta and vegan options—including one named after BMX professional and Flip’s regular Matt Hoffman— everyone should be able to find something to love at Flip’s.
It’s that kind of openness to all people that has made Flip’s the cozy and quirky neighborhood spot it remains to this day. Betsy revels in telling a story about their diverse clientele. “One night, we had E.K. Gaylord and his wife having dinner, and right next to them was a local group, a great band that were known major drug users, and they were about to do a gig. You’ve got the scraggly, druggy musicians over here next to E.K. Gaylord and his wife who were so prim and proper.”
Depending on the time of day, the crowd at Flip’s transitions. Lunchtime is often bustling with office workers on their breaks. Happy hour brings the neighborhood regulars who have been coming in since the restaurant opened, often greeted with their favorite cocktails before they even sit down. The kitchen is always open until 1 a.m., and during those night-owl hours, bartenders and other industry people pop in to enjoy the full late-night menu and have a drink after long shifts at other restaurants. Flip’s even does a Sunday brunch, with weekly specials!
Like any successful eatery, the staff at Flip’s is critical to the restaurant’s maintaining its status as a local favorite for so long. Their dishwasher has been with them for twenty-five years, and plenty of others on staff have worked at Flip’s for anywhere from five to twenty years. That kind of longevity is astounding in a high-turnover industry where many people bounce from gig to gig quickly. Betsy and Gail attribute that long-term retention to their respectful relationships with their employees.
No matter how much the rest of the neighborhood changes around it, Flip’s is devoted to keeping the same comfortable trattoria vibe. With thirty years and counting of tried and true success, Betsy and Gail know what works. Quality food, friendly folks, and dependable service solidify Flip’s as a reliable choice for what we’re all after in life: a good experience.