Tag Archives: European

Frequent Flyers

March 29, 2017 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

When the world’s elite horses (and riders) arrive in Omaha, an entourage of police and first responders—including mounted patrol—will escort them to the location of the Longines FEI World Cup. The international championship for show jumping and dressage begins March 29 and continues through April 2 at the CenturyLink Center.

European competitors depart from Amsterdam, Netherlands, aboard a chartered Boeing 777 cargo plane that takes more than nine hours to reach Omaha.

The flight requires horses to be loaded into specialized containers called “jet stalls,” which resemble an enclosed stable stall. Jet stalls can hold up to three horses. The charter flight includes a “pro groom,” nine shipper grooms, and a veterinarian—all provided by the company overseeing the transportation, the Dutta Corporation.

Horses at this elite level are well-seasoned air travelers, making the journey seem almost routine, says J. Tim Dutta, the founder and owner of the international horse logistics company.

“Horses are just like human beings,” Dutta says. “Some get jittery, some read the rosary, some like some gin and tonic, some go to sleep before the plane leaves the gate, and the rest are worried about life two days afterward. Everybody’s an individual, and we are ready for each and every situation.”

Any concerns or worries, he says, are the things that can’t be entirely controlled or predicted—such as poor weather conditions or a horse getting sick during transportation.

“You’ve got a couple hundred million dollars worth of horses on the plane, so that’s serious business,” he says. “You want everything to go smooth, and there’s always challenges. But for a guy like me who’s been at it for 28 years, and has done quite a few of them, it’s just another day at the office.”

Once the horses arrive in Omaha, they will be quarantined at the CenturyLink Center for up to three days while the USDA checks for diseases and other potential health concerns.

Veterinarian Mike Black—based out of his Nebraska Equine Veterinary Clinic just outside of Blair—says any adverse effects of a long journey would be the same for horses whether they traveled by trailer or airplane. It’s not unusual for humans and animals to struggle through temporarily weakened immune systems due to stress and long periods of confinement with other travelers.

“Whenever the animal is put under stress, it will compromise some of their ability to respond to infections,” Black says. “And a lot of horses are carriers of viruses and things. So, as they’re around other horses that they’re not normally around, then things can be spread.”

When the competition opens March 29, folks without a ticket will have an opportunity to get a closer look at all the horse-and-rider teams. The practice area will be free and open to all.

Mike West, CEO of Omaha Equestrian Foundation, hopes to create a fan-friendly and carnival-like atmosphere.

The World Cup is the first international championship of its kind to be hosted in Omaha, he says. Sure, there have been championship boxing bouts in the city. And the NCAA crowns the champions of college baseball in Omaha. But never before will so many world champions prove themselves on local grounds.

Back in 1950, when the College World Series first came to Omaha, nobody could have expected how the “Gateway to the West” would become a Midwestern sports mecca.

“They didn’t know about swim trials; they didn’t know about NCAA basketball or wrestling or volleyball and all the great events that we have now,” says West, a veteran Omaha sports-marketing professional. He previously held management positions with the Lancers, Cox Classic Golf Tournament, and Creighton’s athletics department.

The Omaha Equestrian Foundation is not only dedicated to putting on a good show. West and his colleagues are committed to continuing the city’s relationship with the FEI, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (aka, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports), the governing body for the sports of show jumping and dressage.

“We have an opportunity, but we also have an obligation as an organizer to do a good job. Because if we do a good job, we don’t know what it will lead to, but we know it will lead to something [positive],” he says.

A successful 2017 World Cup in Omaha could improve chances of the World Cup returning, along with its estimated economic impact of $50 million.

“We have to be better than anybody—by far—at listening and delivering on our promise to the fans of this sport,” West says. “And if we do, I think we’ll develop a reputation that if you want to be treated like a fan [of sports], go to Omaha, Nebraska.”

Visit omahaworldcup2017.com for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Cozily Chic

August 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From the corner of her sunroom in the historic Mercer Hotel on 11th and Howard streets, Bonnie Leonhardt can see another of the six places she’s lived in downtown since 1985. “Houses scare me,” she says by way of explaining her affinity for condo living. “I like having all the people around me. You don’t even have to know them; just having them around is nice.”

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The sunroom is part of a patio she had covered about five years ago. “Now it’s where we spend all our time,” she says, referring to husband Gail and her menagerie consisting of Henri the poodle, and cats Sophie and Xena. “It’s wonderful for fireworks, and my grandkids love it when it rains.”

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The Mercer Hotel condo is one of three downtown places Bonnie and Gail have renovated over the years. They moved in 10 years ago after someone asked if they’d sell their half-block-long condo in the old Howard Street Tavern. “We loved that place; I had no intention of ever selling,” Gail says. “But my wife blurted out this huge figure, and he said okay. I about fell out of my chair.”

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Never fear, the Leonhardts have effortlessly instilled their joie de vivre into their current home. Every square inch of the renovated condo is charmingly utilized. Orchids, amaryllis, and paperwhites color the sunroom, cozy conversation areas pepper the common room, and the white walls and open layout keep the overall feel airy. No decorator is called in, “it’s just me,” Bonnie says, though she confesses that if she brings one more thing into the place, “I’ll be a star on Hoarders.” Chairs in particular are her weakness, as proven by the Louis Ghost chairs around a small dining table by the open kitchen. Gail approves of her selections. In general. “She has good taste in everything but wine,” he says.

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The couple took out the too-tight lighthouse staircase up to the second floor in favor of one with a looser spiral and wider steps. An office, bathroom, and bedroom are sectioned off with their own doors, adding a new level of privacy the previously wide-open loft lacked.

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The main changes to the downstairs are hardwood floors in place of carpeting and losing the galley layout of the kitchen. “I didn’t want to be in the kitchen by myself anymore,” Bonnie says. Now guests can chat with the chef over a simple island—a slab of marble atop a small Bombay chest. The marble is Carrara, she thinks. “I have chemo brain, and it’s just not coming to me.” Bonnie was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in April of 2012, prompting her to retire as a realtor from Pitney Bowes.

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She and Gail, CEO of North Central Rehabilitation, do still entertain a lot, though the gatherings these days are mostly small groups of very close friends. “People come in and say the place looks so European,” Bonnie notes. “French, they say, but I don’t know. Let’s call it Early Junque.”

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The description works only because an air of casual welcome pervades the look of downtown chic. It’s the type of place where you might arrive in Louboutin stilettos only to kick them off in a few minutes because you know it’s all right.

The French Bulldog

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For Bryce Coulton, part-owner of Dundee’s The French Bulldog, life is not a bowl of cherries. It’s two wedges of roasted acorn squash, roasted balsamic onions and tomatoes, house-made ricotta, and a drizzle of mint oil, otherwise known as the eatery’s Acorn Squash Salad. But a little background on the chef first…20130312_bs_9071_Web

After traveling the world while serving in the U.S. military for 20 years, Coulton went to culinary school in Ireland, then spent time in London cooking before coming back to this side of the pond. He, along with partners Anne Cavanaugh and Phil Anania, opened The French Bulldog last September in what used to be a Subway.  Now in its place, cured meats hang and a rustic décor represent one of Omaha’s few charcuteries. “We wanted to establish ourselves as a place where people can find what they want,” he says, “Dundee has all walks of life and we aim to please everyone.”20130312_bs_8983_Web

The inspiration for The French Bulldog came from Bryce Coulton’s time in Europe and the idea of creating a simplistic space with a casual atmosphere. Customers are able to interact with the bartender and waitstaff as the bar also doubles as the prep area for the food. The French Bulldog specializes in cut meats, cheeses, and even a homemade pork pie (also London-inspired). In fact, everything is done in-house, down to Coulton’s personal mustard recipe. The New Jersey native explains, “I’m not big on side salads. The salad should be the star of the plate.”20130312_bs_9116_Web

He then reminisces on his favorite memory working at a café in London. “The café was in a greenhouse, a long, 30-foot shed. There was a path down to the garden where, if we ran out, we could pick fresh herbs or chard.”20130312_bs_8989_Web

Coulton met Cavanaugh and Anania, owners of another successful Dundee restaurant, Amsterdam Falafel, two and half years ago while working at The Boiler Room. Space in the Dundee area rarely opens, so when one did, the three jumped at the chance to create a place where people can get together for lunch, dinner, and everything in between. It’s a place of comfort and simple, unique dishes, where the specials are written on a chalkboard. When asked what the best thing he’s ever eaten is, Coulton thinks for a minute, then talks of a Jerusalem artichoke purée: “It was flavorful, unique, and simple.” It seems as though his favorite dish mimics his new and already successful Dundee restaurant.

The Magnetts’ Dunsany Flats Condo

August 20, 2012 by
Photography by minorwhitestudios

Charlie and Sherri Magnett were driving through Omaha’s Little Italy neighborhood when they spotted the vintage Dunsany Flats building near 10th and Pierce streets. It was built in 1901 to house railroad workers. They found their dream condo inside. The deck first caught their eye.

“The deck sold us on this condo,” says Sherri. A glass wall leads to a spacious deck with a ceiling fan, couch, and chairs. Their deck overlooks a “green” roof where living plants flourish. The colorful roof provides insulation for the garage below, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer, as well as a pleasant view for condo owners.

Sherri Magnett admires her view of Little Italy.

Sherri Magnett admires her view of Little Italy.

Charlie and Sherri were so struck by what they saw, the Millard-area homeowners sold their place two years ago, then bought two Dunsany condos and melded them into an airy 1,900-square-foot home. A brick wall was removed and replaced with sliding oak doors that were the original unit’s front doors. Windows flood the rooms with natural light.

The original exposed brick walls and woodwork that were new the day the building opened more than a century ago were retained and restored during renovation. Ornamental iron flower boxes sit just outside the windows of the condos.

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The media room is wired for sound. Electronics are hidden in a closet to give the room an uncluttered look. Posters from movies popular with family members—which include daughter Page, 19, and son Chase, 22—hang from the walls. Each chose a favorite movie to feature: The Wizard of Oz (Charlie); Silence of the Lambs and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Sherri); Reservoir Dogs and Forrest Gump (Page); and Boondock Saints and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Chase).

Movies made in Nebraska are saluted in posters that line a hallway leading to the bedrooms of Page and Chase: Sideways, Election, Up in the Air, and About Schmidt. Reverend, a fluffy white puppy who lives with the Magnetts, appears not to have a favorite movie. We would have guessed 101 Dalmatians.

Son Chase spends a good chunk of time in the media room.

Son Chase spends a good chunk of time in the media room.

The couple invested in a system that uses a strip running along the upper wall with wires that hang down to hold the posters, making the hanging job easier. Also on the front hall walls are framed maps that Charlie collects. Shelving in the hallway was custom-made for them from 100-year-old salvaged wood.

They’ve had as many as 50 guests in their double condo. But it’s unlikely the neighbors were annoyed by noise. Acoustical flooring, 12-inch-thick masonry walls, and a sound-proofing system assure privacy and quiet. “You barely hear your own footsteps,” says Charlie.

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The custom-designed, European-style kitchen was Sherri’s project. Cabinet doors open accordion-style above the Corian counters. “The one thing Charlie wanted in the kitchen was an integrated kitchen sink (sink and countertop are formed together),” she says.

“We bought the appliances on eBay,” adds Sherri, who relishes a bargain.

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Bedroom closets feature backlit, glass doors. Lighting makes it easier to find clothing and shines through the glass for a soft light in the bedroom. An attic was added by the Magnetts to supplement the storage space already available. A metal ladder folds down to allow access to the attic, which doubles as a bedroom when Chase’s friends visit.

Before settling into the Little Italy neighborhood, Sherri checked City of Omaha plans and learned the area is targeted for revitalization. The Blue Barn Theatre’s new building is scheduled to go up by 2014 across the street from their condo.

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There’s a lot going on in walking distance. They can stroll to the Old Market, Durham Museum, and TD Ameritrade Park, where Charlie caught the College World Series. They can watch July 4th fireworks from Downtown Omaha and hear music from Stir Cove across the Missouri River.

Charlie now has only a seven-minute walk to Union Pacific headquarters where he is an engineer. Sherri’s commute to Peter Kiewit, where she is an IT worker, also is shorter than from Millard.

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They wanted to be closer to their jobs and closer to the center of action. “There’s so much to do. It’s a different lifestyle,” says Charlie. “We’ve been talking for five years about doing this.”

They found new friends and a lively neighborhood in Little Italy. The couple ride bikes and attend ball games with neighbors. Sherri and a friend won this year’s tournament on the neighborhood bocce court, even though she had never played.

“We know everybody by name,” says Sherri.