Tag Archives: Chase Thomsen

Chase Thomsen

February 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A former Dundee-area eyesore is now one of the hottest places in Omaha to scarf down eggs and waffles.

For years, a decaying, vacant service station sat near the roundabout that connects Seward, Happy Hollow, and 50th streets. But this past summer, the building began to undergo a metamorphosis. The exterior got a slick, black lacquer-like paint job. The 5-foot hole inside the building was filled in. And for a final touch, a hot pink neon sign boldly displayed four letters: SCBC.

Today, visitors to the Saddle Creek Breakfast Club can expect at least two things: a sweet or savory breakfast in the $10 range, and about a one-hour wait. The breakfast-themed restaurant is the vision of executive chef Chase Thomsen and his wife, Niki. The restaurant serves up high-end takes on standard greasy spoon fare: biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried pork, as well as sweet offerings such as banana pancakes or a waffle that’s topped with candied macadamia nuts. They also have a vegan menu, which, like their primary menu, is seasonally adjusted.

Chase’s restaurant experience came at an early age. His godfather, Malcolm Thompson, was the former owner of Taxi’s Grille and Bar. Chase took his first job at age 15 at the now-closed Yo Yo Grille, which was located around 120th and Pacific streets. Then he went to the University of Nebraska-Kearney to study graphic design, but dropped out to work full time as a chef.

In 2007, he worked at Taxi’s. In 2009, he was in charge of that restaurant’s back-end kitchen. He later went to work at Plank, then, after returning to Taxi’s for a brief time, he worked at The Market House. While at The Market House, Chase worked with executive chef and fellow Millard North alum Matt Moser, who now co-owns Stirnella.

“Chase is an extremely talented and hard worker,” Moser says. “I can see why he’s getting the press and reviews he is getting.”

Both chefs’ culinary careers took a radical shift on Jan. 9, 2016, when an early afternoon explosion ripped through M’s Pub. Chase had a dinner shift at The Market House, which was adjacent to the beloved Omaha institution. On that frigid afternoon following the fire, he thought they’d be closed for dinner at most.

“We were still thinking that he may have to work the next day,” his wife Niki says. “Obviously, by the next morning, there was another story.”

Sitting at one of the tables at SCBC, Chase ran his fingers down one of the strings in his dark-blue hoodie and recalled the first thing he thought after hearing The Market House was damaged beyond repair. “I have to find a job,” he says with a laugh.

He took a job as a food consultant at a senior living community to pay the bills. During that time, his son, Lennon, was born. Throughout 2016, Chase and Niki began to come up with the concept of a breakfast-themed restaurant. Niki knew contractor Jeff Hubby, who ended up turning the old service station into what is now an eating hot spot on the northeastern edge of Dundee. The entire construction process took less than five months, Chase says.

Niki worked on the interior theme. Some of the inspiration for the design came from stuff she saw on Pinterest. When she heard the tile work for one of the walls would cost more than $20,000, she went to tile stores to get the white, black, and grey diamond-style design she wanted.

“Every decision we made was honestly dictated by budget,” Niki says.

Doing a breakfast-themed restaurant serves two needs for Chase. First, it gives him the opportunity to focus on his favorite meal. Second, it provides the opportunity to be at home in the evening for his family. With half a year into operation, he’s still trying to fulfill that second need. For the first few months after its October opening, he found himself getting home after midnight, even though service stops at 2 p.m.

“Our son is 1 now. I’m thinking, ‘Get this place open, become a morning person, and be able to have evenings at home,’” Chase says. “We’re not quite there yet.”

Saddle Creek Breakfast Club is located at 1540 N. Saddle Creek. Visit @scbcomaha on Facebook for more information.

 

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Taxi’s Grille and Bar

October 24, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Veteran Omaha restaurateur and chef Malcolm (Mac) Thompson opened Taxi’s in 2002 with the late Bill Johnette after their successful run at the much-celebrated Neon Goose. Over the years Taxis’s has also enjoyed considerable achievement and now Mac’s godson, Chase Thomsen, has taken over as Executive Chef. I had not been to Taxi’s for a while, so I decided to make a trip over there and see what’s cooking.

From the outside Taxi’s is not overly impressive, just another Omaha strip mall restaurant. Once inside it becomes obvious that great care is taken to keep this restaurant in top condition with a comfortable, casual, friendly, neighborhood vibe. All of the artwork, tables, chairs, serviceware, and other furnishings are above average quality and look much newer than the dozen years the restaurant has been open. The restrooms are also very impressive and clean. It may sound a little strange to a lay reader, but foodies know you can tell a lot about a restaurant and its operators by the condition of the restrooms.

Now for the best part of Taxi’s…the food! While many of the dishes on the menu spark memories from past dinners at Taxi’s, Chef Chase’s influence on the menu can be seen with several new dishes and some really creative specials. The wine list is well curated. Not too big. Not too small. There are some real gems on that list, and since I was in on Wednesday, all bottles were half price!

I went with the Troublemaker Blend from Paso Robles, Calif. ($20). It was excellent and went pretty well with everything I tried. They also have a full bar and nice beer selections. The service at Taxi’s has always been top-notch, and this visit was no exception.

 

 

 

My dining partner and I started off with the Waffle Fries ($8) and the Dijon Shrimp ($10). The Waffle Fries are basically a creative take on a poutine with a creamy chipotle sauce and melted Gorgonzola cheese. I can sum this one up in one word. Yum! The Dijon Shrimp is served escargot-style in a rich garlic butter topped with bubbling cheese and a crusty French baguette to sop up the butter.

I love this dish because it gives people a chance to see how divine a traditional escargot tastes without having to eat snails in the process, which is a put-off for many people.

I couldn’t have a meal at Taxi’s without having some of their Cabbage and Blue Cheese Soup ($4). This dish never ceases to amaze me. For an entrée, I tried one of the three specials in ordering Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp ($22). These large, grilled shrimp were stuffed with a sliver of jalapeno and wrapped with thick, crispy bacon before being served over Spanish-style rice and topped with a fresh mango salsa.

It was a fantastic combination.

My dining partner went the more traditional route and ordered the Beef Pot Roast ($16) off the menu. This is covered in a rich gravy and is served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, carrots, and squash. This could very well be the best pot roast in Omaha. For dessert we sampled the Wild Berry Cobbler ($6). This scratch-made cobbler was served à la mode and was the perfect ending to another stellar meal at Taxi’s.

Many years ago when I was new in town someone told me that Taxi’s is the best neighborhood restaurant in Omaha. That’s a pretty tall order, but in my experience there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Go give it a try and see for yourself! Cheers!

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