Tag Archives: Kansas City

2017 May/June Explore

May 1, 2017 by and

Nebraska

Buddy Guy. May 4 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time Grammy Award winner Buddy Guy will showcase his highly acclaimed guitar talent and vocals. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$55. 402-472-4747
liedcenter.org

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. May 12 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Country music’s famous married couple are touring the U.S. together for the first time in a decade on their “Soul2Soul World Tour 2017.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $86.50-$217. 402-904-4444
pinnaclebankarena.com

Migratory Bird Day. May 13 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Learn about the impressive journey some birds take through migration each year. This event will feature crafts and games. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

Motherless Daughters Retreat. May 13 at Red Road Herbs Retreat & Learning Center, Stanton. This retreat is to support and encourage women of all ages who have lost their mothers. Women will share memories through storytelling, photos, poetry, and prose. 1-5 p.m. Registration: $40. 402-640-0744
redroadherbs.com

Free Park Day. May 20 at all Nebraska state parks and recreation areas. Free entry and fishing in all Nebraska state parks, state recreation areas, and state historical parks. Individual parks and recreation areas will hold special events. Regular park hours apply. 402-471-0641
outdoornebraska.gov

Def Leppard, Poison, and Tesla. May 24 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Hard rock fans will enjoy this show, which promotes Def Leppard’s new album, And There Will Be a Next Time. Poison fans will see all four members of the original band reunited for the first time in more than five years. 7 p.m. Tickets: $29-$122. 402-904-4444
pinnaclebankarena.com

Move—Beyond. May 24 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Dancing with the Stars performers Julianne and Derek Hough will bring fans on a journey of dance and music, taking inspiration from the four elements—earth, wind, fire, and water—as an exploration of the human relationship with nature. 7 p.m. Tickets: $59-$649. 402-472-4747
liedcenter.org

60th Annual Spring Flea Market. May 27-28 in Brownville. This village-wide flea market is full of antiques, art, collectibles, plants, food vendors, and community fun. Expect to find lots of treasures, from 19th-century books to 1960s car parts. 402-825-6841
brownville-ne.com

Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament. June 3-4 at West Wind Fold Course and Bayside Golf Course, Ogallala. The 13th annual Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament has an entry fee of $125 per person for two days of golf, golf carts, range balls, and two meals. 9 a.m. 308-284-4487
visitogallala.com

Archie’s Late Night Party. June 8 at The University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln. This all ages event invites families to stay up late at Morrill Hall. Guests will learn about natural history and science through hands-on activities. 6-10 p.m. 402-472-2642
museum.unl.edu

Get Outdoors Day. June 10 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. In celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, Arbor Day Farm will hold numerous outdoor events including a scavenger hunt, agility activities, and crafts. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

The Swedish Festival. June 16-18 in Stromsburg. The annual festival, in the “Swede Capital of Nebraska,” will include Swedish food, costumes, dancing, free entertainment, sports tournaments, a carnival, parade, car show, and more. 1-8 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 402-764-5265
theswedishfestival.com

International Mud Day. June 24 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Arbor Day Farm celebrates International Mud Day with educational opportunities and a chance for kids to make mud paintings and sculptures. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

Iowa

Maifest. May 6-7 in the Amana Colonies. Witness dancing around the Maypole and lots of music while dining on, or sampling, German food and wine in this quaint series of villages. See free demonstrations at the furniture shop, woolen mill, and other areas. Admission: free.
festivalsinamana.com

Tulip Festival. May 18-20 in downtown Orange City. Thousands of tulips will be in bloom during this festival. This ethnic festival features music and dancing by children and adults in authentic costumes, two daily parades, a nightly musical theater, a carnival midway, Dutch delicacies and other food, and an art fair. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Admission: free. 712-707-4510
octulipfestival.com

Red Hot Chili Peppers. May 23 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winning group are touring to promote their most recent album, The Getaway. Irontom and Jack Irons will perform as special guests. 8 p.m. Tickets: $50-$100. 515-564-8000
iowaeventscenter.com

Steel Magnolias. June 2-18 at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Des Moines. This story is about six unlikely friends in the South who entertain with lighthearted conversations until tragedy strikes and brings them face-to-face with their mortality. Tickets: $25-$36. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 515-277-6261
dmplayhouse.com

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. June 5 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, the band is touring in addition to releasing two companion vinyl box sets featuring their entire studio album collection. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $39.50-$129.50. 515-564-8000
iowaeventscenter.com

35th Annual Antique Show. June 16-18 throughout the city of Walnut. Stroll along the 17 blocks of dealers outside, through two indoor halls, the Catholic Church yard, and the many shops downtown. Bring a hauling vehicle and plan to stay for the weekend—this event brings more than 300 dealers and approximately 30,000 attendees. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 712-784-3443
walnutiowa.org

Wurst Festival. June 17 in the Amana Colonies. Celebrate one of Germany’s favorite foods. Sample more than 40 different sausages, drink cold beverages, play yard games, and listen to live music. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free.
festivalsinamana.com

Des Moines Arts Festival. June 23-25 at Western Gateway Park, Des Moines. The festival features visual, performing, and interactive arts, along with music and film, from both professional artists and emerging local artists. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 515-286-4950
desmoinesartsfestival.org

Trek Fest XXXIII. June 23-24 in downtown Riverside. Klingons driving tractors? Riverside’s annual tribute to its most famous citizen, the future Capt. James T. Kirk, includes a parade, costume contest, dog show, and bingo. This year’s theme is “30 Years of Next Generation.” 3 p.m.-midnight Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday. Admission: free. 319-631-9181
trekfest.org

The Big Parade and Mardi Gras Festivale 2017. June 29 in downtown Sioux City. Those who didn’t make it to “N’awlins” on the Tuesday before Lent started can experience a similar festival in June with a big parade down Fourth Street. Following the parade will be an authentic Cajun dinner, Zydeco music, fireworks, and a display of handmade Mardi Gras costumes direct from Louisiana. 6-10 p.m. Admission: free, but tickets must be purchased for the food. 712-279-4800
visitsiouxcity.org

Missouri

BBQ Cookoff and 93rd Annual Apple Blossom Parade. May 5-7 at Civic Center Park, St. Joseph. Come to St. Joseph’s annual rite of spring. This citywide event includes a grand parade, a contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, live music, and other activities. A people’s choice tasting and contest is a highlight of Friday evening. Admission: free, but tickets must be bought for the food. 816-271-4393
appleblossomparade.com

Garth Brooks. May 6 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. One of country music’s most beloved stars is coming back to Kansas City. Brooks released his latest single, “Ask Me How I Know,” at the SXSW Festival in Austin, a month after selling his 5 millionth ticket on this tour. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $75 and up. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

Weston Wine Festival. May 13 in downtown Weston. Live music and wine tasting is the focus of this festival, situated in a historic small town. Taste wines from eight different wineries from around the area. Noon-7 p.m. Tickets $25. 816-640-2909
westonmo.com

Chainsmokers. May 17 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Grammy-nominated artist/producer duo Drew Taggart and Alex Pall are most known for their song “#Selfie,” which went viral in 2015. The group has announced that their debut album will launch later this year. 7 p.m. Tickets: $41-$75.50. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

KC Jazz Festival. May 25-28 at 18th and Vine District, Kansas City. This festival, held in Charlie Parker’s birth town, is a multi-day showcase of national and local artists highlighting Kansas City’s role in the development of mid-20th century jazz. Headliners include Brandy, John Scofield, Regina Carter, and the Hot Sardines. Times vary by location. Tickets: $15-$125 for a single-day pass, $150-$350 for a four-day pass. 816-474-8463
kcjazzfest.com

Festa Italiana. June 2-4 at Zona Rosa, Kansas City. This annual festival celebrates Italian-American culture through an assortment of Italian food favorites, an Italian car show, food eating contests, vendors, and more. 5-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 816-587-8180
zonarosa.com

Future. June 7 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Future achieved three back-to-back No. 1 albums in 2015. His songs “Low Life” (featuring The Weeknd), and “Where Ya At” (featuring Drake), both went double-platinum. 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$97.50. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

Polish Pottery Festival 2017. June 10 in downtown Weston. Celebrate all things Polish and Eastern European with food, music, dance, pottery, artisans, and cultural booths. The public library will read Polish children’s stories at selected times, and photos can be taken in the Polish Pottery Road Trip car. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free. 816-640-2909
westonmo.com

Fiesta Kansas City. June 16-18 at Crown Center Square, Kansas City. or the 16th year, this Latino-style celebration presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City will provide a fun-filled weekend for guests. Festivities will include many vendors, entertainment, food, beverages, and more. 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission: free. 816-476-6767
fiestakansascity.com

Big Slick. June 23 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City. Kansas City-raised celebrities Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and David Koechner will take the field in a charity softball game before the Royals play the Toronto Blue Jays. A fireworks show follows the games. 5 p.m. Tickets: $25-$40. 816-921-8000
kansascity.royals.mlb.com


This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com


Event times and details may change

Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Omaha Tourism Trivia

August 26, 2016 by

With the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in the city this past summer, out-of-town visitors were front and center, but do you know how many out-of-towners visit Omaha during a typical year?

Take a guess:

A    250,000

B    1.2 million

C    750,000

D   11.9 million

If you guessed B or C, you are like most people we ask, but the answer is D. According to research conducted by Tourism Economics—an Oxford Economics Company, 11.9 million visitors come to Omaha every year. We define a visitor as someone who travels to Omaha from more than 50 miles away. About 60 percent of those are day visitors, folks who travel in from places like Shenandoah, Iowa, to go shopping, out to eat, to see their doctor, or to take in a performance and then return home. The other 40 percent are overnight visitors—people who come to visit relatives, families who want to enjoy a long weekend getaway, fans who travel to Omaha for sporting events or concerts, convention delegates, and business travelers. While we at the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) don’t have much control over where your relatives live, or with whom you do business, we do have an impact on leisure travelers and convention delegates.

Our convention sales team focuses on bringing convention business here. They travel the country promoting Omaha to groups such as the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives, which met in Omaha in July. The organization is made up of 200 associations that also hold meetings throughout the year, so this one meeting could garner even more convention business in the future for the city. Last year alone, the convention sales team was responsible for 291 meetings here in Omaha, and those meetings brought in more than $125 million to our local economy. 

Our marketing team focuses on building Omaha’s reputation as a great leisure destination, a place where families, couples, and friends can enjoy a fun getaway. In addition to purchasing national advertising to brand Omaha as a visitor destination, the marketing team also targets the drive market, a 250-mile radius around Omaha. A 10-month-long regional advertising campaign in Kansas City, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls paid off. According to independent surveys conducted by Scarborough Research, a total of 402,212 visitors from those cities came to Omaha for an overnight visit during 2015, a 9.3 percent increase over 2014. Think about it: if each of these visitors spent $100 while in Omaha, that’s a $40 million payoff for our city.

So next time you’re on Jeopardy and they ask how many people visit Omaha each year, aim high…we do. B2B

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

Isiah Gandy

August 12, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If there was a sport at Boys Town, Isiah Gandy didn’t just play it. He excelled at it.

As a high school freshman, he was instrumental in Boys Town’s push through the state basketball playoffs to win the 2006 championship, the school’s first title in 40 years.

As a senior quarterback, he led the Cowboys football team to the Class C-1 championship (although they lost the final game). 

He also ran cross country and participated in the triple jump and high jump in track and field. But his first—his strongest—sport was always basketball, a game he picked up on the local court near his childhood home of West Palm Beach, Florida.

“My dad played basketball, and we shot baskets in the backyard when I was a kid, so it’s something I’ve always loved,” says Gandy.

After Boys Town, he bounced around college programs. Following one year at Des Moines Area Community College, and two seasons on court with the UNO Mavericks, Gandy transferred to Minot State University in North Dakota for his junior and senior years.

Now, Gandy has the opportunity to play his favorite game in Omaha again—and get paid for it.

This fall, he will take the court with the newly formed Omaha Chargers of the National Basketball League of America. The first-year league starts this September with a short season ending in November.

“I’ve always had a hunger for basketball,” says Gandy, who has been coaching at his high school alma mater for the past two basketball seasons. “I love the work—the grind—involved with playing basketball and playing it well.

Teams on the Chargers’ schedule are located in Sioux City, Kansas City, and Sioux Falls, and home games will be played at Ralston Arena.

As a shooting guard, Gandy joins a squad with deep ties to the local community. Head coach Rodney Buford played basketball at Creighton University before an NBA career. Point guard C.J. Carter graduated from Omaha Benson High School, was an all-star at UNO, and played professional basketball in Macedonia last season. Shooting guard James Parrott hails from Omaha, and several other teammates have links to regional basketball programs.

Gandy initially came to Omaha via Boys Town when he was 15, and he excelled right away on and off the court.

“Boys Town was a great experience for me because I learned a lot of things that I didn’t get to do in a single-parent home in Florida,” says Gandy. “We never sat down to eat as a family at home, but we did at Boys Town, and that meant something to me. Overall, it was a good experience.”

While he’s excited to play before an audience that he considers to be his home crowd, Gandy also hopes to parlay his playing time with the Chargers into a chance at international pro leagues.

“I found out about the league in April when a friend sent me a link, and I was interested right away,” he says. “This is going to be a great opportunity to see the support the community gives to its sports teams on a professional level.”

Visit omahachargers.com for more information. Omaha Magazine

IsiahGandy1

The Loyal Royal

October 27, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The batter steps up to the plate and smacks a line drive into the left field gap. The runner at second base starts motoring toward third, rounds the corner, and heads for home. It was seemingly a logical base-running decision, but an ill-advised one for a couple of reasons: one, this is Kauffman Stadium; two, Alex Gordon patrols left field.

Gordon seems to have a sixth sense about where a ball will ping off the wall or hop on the outfield grass. Sure enough, on this night against the Baltimore Orioles, he times his run toward the ball perfectly, catches it on the first bounce, and immediately rifles a throw straight into the glove of All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who applies the tag. Another baserunner kill (assist) for Gordon, whose defensive skills have earned three consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

Now in his eighth season with the Kansas City Royals, the Lincoln native has become the face of the franchise. He is everything the club thought he would—and could—be when they drafted him as the second overall pick in 2005 following a legendary junior year at the University of Nebraska, where he swept all the national player of the year awards. When Gordon signed with the Royals in September of that year, sports outlets throughout KC hailed him as the next George Brett, the hero who would once again lead the team to the Promised Land of playoffs and stop the hemorrhaging in the loss column. Heady stuff for a 21-year-old.

“Yeah, I felt a little pressure,” reflects Gordon, sitting in a quiet room deep within “The K” behind the Royals dugout. “But I think anytime you’re drafted where I was drafted there’s going to be those expectations. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.”

The way Gordon dealt with setbacks early in his Royals career made the difference between being a success or becoming another asterisk in what was then a maddening streak of first-round draft busts. He debuted against the Red Sox in April 2007. His offensive output disappointed during his first two seasons. Then, in 2009 and 2010, injuries severely curtailed his playing time. On top of that, the Royals moved Gordon from third base to the outfield. To regain his swing and build his confidence in a new position, the Royals sent him down to Triple-A Omaha.

“I could have gone down there, moped around and been upset; not tried to work hard to get to where I wanted to be,” says Gordon of his time in Omaha. “ But I took a positive attitude and did everything I could.”

Gordon’s widely admired work ethic and relentless pursuit of perfection paid off. He scorched the scoreboard in Omaha and, just as importantly, discovered he loved playing left field. “It kinda’ comes natural,” he says. Many would argue he is now the game’s best outfielder.

An All-Star with his own cheering section and a legion of “Gordo Nation” fans, Gordon opted to stay with the club that he worshipped growing up in Lincoln. In 2012, he signed a four-year contract extension worth $37.5 million, though baseball insiders say he could have gone to another club for a lot more. Gordon will have none of that.

“They stuck with me,” says Gordon, explaining why his loyalty to the team runs so deep. “You know, they could have easily gotten rid of me or traded me. But they believed in me and I thank them a lot for that. It’s somewhere I want to be and somewhere they’ve let me be for awhile.”

Kansas City’s proximity to Nebraska also played a huge part in his decision to stay. Gordon’s wife, Jamie, whom he met in college and married in 2008, also hails from Lincoln. The lure of home is so great that the couple, along with their two young sons, Max and Sam, live in Lincoln during the off-season. For their part, Nebraskans embrace Gordon not just as a Royal but also as a Husker.
“Alex Gordon is awesome,” says Nebraska fan James Kolasky, a nurse in Elkhorn. “He was on the Dream Team for the Huskers in 2005 along with Joba [Chamberlain]. They went to the College World Series, but the cards didn’t fall their way.”

Though the “Dream Team” only won one game at the CWS, the experience still resonates with Gordon.

“We were from Nebraska and we played in Omaha, so we got the home crowd,” says Gordon, who first attracted attention as a two-time Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year at Lincoln Southeast High School. “We had an escort to the baseball field [at the old Rosenblatt Stadium]. We almost felt like rock stars. It was pretty cool.”

True to his Nebraska roots, Gordon displays neither ego nor airs of any kind when dealing with the media. He accepts giving interviews as part of the job and remains accessible and patient—a genuinely nice guy. But the ballplayer is all business. His small talk is about as lean as his physique. (Gordon is a walking billboard for the benefits of a chicken and protein diet, which he follows faithfully). His daily routine consists of weight lifting and cardio, followed by batting practice, a little shut-eye, and then back to the batting cage. While his life is an open book, thanks to the Internet, he still provided a little-known tidbit:

“I’m really good at cards,” he admits. “Just ask the other guys on the team. I always kill them at cards. Other than that, I’m a pretty laid-back guy and a family man. It doesn’t take much for me to have fun.”

Nebraska’s best baseball player—kind, courteous, and killing it in Kansas City. And a card shark to boot.

 

Beansmith

October 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beansmith Coffee Roasters’ immaculate bar still feels brand-new—it just opened this past spring—but its original wood floors, exposed brick, and some of the design details resonate of a much earlier era. The Old Market building Beansmith occupies at 1213 Harney Street dates to 1880,  says owner Chris Smith. He’s the Smith in the cafe’s name, but another Smith was the building’s namesake.

“Its first owner was George Warren Smith, and it was known as the Smith Building. So we thought it was pretty appropriate that Beansmith should be one of its tenants,” Smith says. “We feel really honored to be part of the heritage of the building.”

The history of Beansmith itself starts 30 years ago, when Smith’s degree in electrical engineering helped pique his curiosity about coffee.

“Engineers in general are curious as to why things work the way they do,” he says. “That ultimately brought me to the point where I wanted to own and operate my own coffee roaster. I had more ability to source exactly what I thought would be great, and those elements—why coffee could taste much better and what’s making that happen—brought me to where I am now.”

Smith’s original foray into entrepreneurship was a drinking water company, which led to providing water for coffee machines, which brought forth the idea of a coffee wholesale business. Smith still operates the La Vista roasting facility he launched in 2006.

“That was a good place to start because it allowed me to see how a variety of different shops and stores operated. It also allowed me to see what worked and what maybe could be better and it allowed me to see how people were reacting to the coffee,” he says. “I had been to Kansas City, Minneapolis, and of course larger cities like San Francisco and Chicago; the coffee scenes in those cities were vibrant…I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Omaha doesn’t have anything like this—why not?’ So as I became more proficient in roasting and experiencing all these locations and takes on coffee, I really started to develop my vision for what we could do here in this area.”

A coffee bar was the natural evolution of that vision, Smith says. “I realized that for us to really have better controllability of our own brand and who we are, ultimately we needed to be serving people our own coffee. We have some great relationships with a variety of shops that serve our coffee and we want to continue that, but we also felt like the best voice for our own coffee was us actually serving it and presenting it to those people interested in specialty coffee.”

Eventually, Smith hopes Beansmith leads Omaha in becoming known to specialty coffee enthusiasts everywhere.

“We can not only just educate, but share what we know about our coffees…I do see more community coffee shops beginning to spark up that are on that same trek in terms of trying to up their game in terms of quality and knowledgeability,” he says. “I think that’s really good for Omaha because that means Omaha is in for the treat of a thriving specialty coffee community.”

Beansmith1

Sauce Sensations

February 6, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I should start out by disclaiming that, despite my Kansas City roots, I haven’t always been barbecue’s biggest fan. I grew up an extremely picky eater, despite being ribbed by my various family members, so it wasn’t until fairly recently that I really started to develop a taste for KC’s different flavors. After a particularly scarring childhood experience at Arthur Bryant’s, in which there was chewed food on my fork and I refused to touch my meal (which my uncle still makes fun of me for to this day, by the way), I swore off barbecue for life—despite it being the meal of choice at every, and I do mean every, family reunion.

If I’d grown up in a place with less tasty barbecue, I maybe never would’ve developed a liking for it. But being surrounded by the country’s best barbecue joints, I consider myself lucky enough to guide my non-local friends on their paths to discovering the food my city is most loved and well-known for. I’ve come to associate even the perpetual smell of barbecue in the city air with the most poignant sense of nostalgia, and if you ask any local native, they’ll probably tell you that barbecue is an unspoken part of Kansas City life.

With that introduction, I have a few recommendations. Whether you’re headed down south for a Chiefs game or road-tripping for a night out on the Plaza, here are four of Kansas City’s top barbecue restaurants you don’t want to miss the next time you’re in town.

Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que
(now Joe’s Kansas City)
Opened: 1996

Top pick: There seems to be an ongoing debate about whether the ribs, pulled pork, or brisket is the Joe’s must-try. No harm in trying all of them.

Opinion: Voted by critics as Kansas City’s best barbecue restaurant this year, the newly christened Joe’s Kansas City has yet to receive a poor Yelp review from BBQ fanatics.

oklahomajoesbbq.com

Gates Bar-B-Q
Opened: 1946

Top pick: A meaty slab of ribs is most commonly ordered in my house, and always with extra helpings of sauce.

Opinion: They’ll give you their famously enthusiastic “Hi, may I help you” shout-out the very moment you cross the threshold—but rare are the times you’ll leave
Gates dissatisfied.

gatesbbq.com

Jack Stack Barbecue
Opened: 1957

Top pick: My personal favorite is the pulled pork sandwich, but the lamb ribs are perhaps more famed.

Opinion: Jack Stack is always my first choice when introducing non-Missouri natives to the realm of KC barbecue. I have yet to hear a complaint.

jackstackbbq.com

Arthur Bryant’s
Opened: 1930

Top pick: Although Arthur Bryant may have been the King of Ribs, the pulled pork sandwich is a prime second best.

Opinion: Even though you may have to root around to locate a clean fork, the full experience of both good barbecue and an environment rife with KC history
remains intact.

arthurbryantsbbq.com

20141210_bs_3966

Kirstin Kluver

August 4, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

One of the Old Market’s most familiar faces is now about to become…well, less familiar.
Kirstin Kluver, who played the bouncily vivacious, “roll in ze hay” Inga in the just-closed Omaha Community Playhouse production of Young Frankenstein, is packing her bags for the brighter lights of Los Angeles.

“I’m learning that I can’t stay in one place if I want to survive as an actress,” says the talent who currently has an agent in both Omaha and Kansas City and has worked extensively throughout the Midwest. “You have to hustle in this business—and I really like that part of my life.”

Kluver is more than just a familiar face of the footlights where she has been, for much of the past decade, something of the reigning, vamp-a-liscious “it girl” of the local stage. She’s also a regular on the cobblestones of Howard Street, where she has operated a massage practice out of the Om Center. The striking beauty known by her trademark, red-redder-reddest hair and crystalline blue eyes, has also worked in short films, television and print.

Still can’t place her? Think back to that memorable Nebraska Lottery TV spot set in a convenience store where Kluver’s razor-sharp bangs where so prominently featured.

“I want to take my career to the next level,” says the longtime crowd favorite who hit the trifecta by sweeping the local acting awards—Theatre Arts Guild Awards, Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, Omaha Community Playhouse Awards—for her work as the ditzy Adelaide in the 2011 Omaha Community Playhouse production of Guys and Dolls. Kluver’s other notable roles have included Roxie in Chicago (2012 Omaha Community Playhouse Mary Peckham Award), Louise in Gypsy (2009 Omaha Community Playhouse Barbara Ford Award), and Angel in Angels in America; Part II (2008 Theatre Arts Guild Award).

“It’s so very flattering when someone stops me on the street and says ‘I saw you in this or that role years ago and your performance still resonates with me,’” she says in describing her favorite type of compliment.

“The idea that I can be a professional actress and make it in Omaha, Nebraska is great,but now it’s time to take the opportunities and experiences that the city has given me and see how that translates in the bigger market of L.A. again.”

Again?

Kluver tested the waters in Hollywood after graduating from Creighton University with a degree in acting, but returned in 2007.

“Omaha has a wonderful creative community and the collaborations I’ve done here are amazing. This city is a great incubator for talent. I’m not sure I’ll ever let go of my massage career because that is also very important to me,” she continues, “but now it’s time to reverse roles a little bit. It’s time to be an actor who also happens to be a massage therapist, instead of the other way around.”

Follow the actress at kirstinkluver.wordpress.com.

Restaurant Review: Louie’s Wine Dive

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Wine should be fun” is what it reads on the staff’s t-shirts at Louie’s Wine Dive, and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. So often, it seems that people are put off by buying wine, ordering wine, or going to wine bars because of the “snooty factor” that is perceived to come along with it. At Louie’s, they’ve done a good job of making wine more accessible to the masses and keeping the snobbery out of it. For that, I commend them.

The Shops of Legacy in West Omaha, has a large selection of very good restaurants. The location that Louie’s now occupies has been home to a couple of restaurants over the past few years, which should be a clue as to how competitive this area is for the West O dining dollar. If the success this small company has had in its Des Moines and Kansas City locations is any indication, then it’s safe to say that Louie’s has a good shot at making it here. The restaurant is very attractive and far from what I would call a dive, but they do have some “divey” features, such as chandeliers made from liquor bottles and mismatched chairs. I would describe the atmosphere as casual and comfortable.

After studying the wine list for a few minutes, it quickly becomes obvious that great care has been taken in the curation of the selections. Most growing regions and varieties are well-represented, and there’s not a dog in the bunch. The food menu has a little of everything as well: creative gourmet food with interesting twists on familiar favorites. There are appetizers, bruschettas, sandwiches, comfort-food entrees, pasta dishes, and salads.

On a recent visit, my dining partner and I started off with an order of Lobster Poutine ($15) and Louie’s Margarita Bruschetta ($9). This version of poutine is a rich lobster sauce poured over some delicious French fries with chunks of Maine lobster and topped with Fontina cheese. This dish was excellent, and one that I would recommend. The bruschetta was equally good and earned extra points since it was made on a baguette from Le Quartier Bakery, which happens to be my favorite bread in Omaha.20130329_bs_9505_Web

Next, we had a starter version of Emily’s Apple Harvest Salad ($5). This was made with baby greens, apples, cranberries, bacon, goat cheese, and candied pecans. I can promise you that I will order this salad every time I return. For entrees, we had the porchetta ($16) and the Shrimp Diablo Pasta ($16). The server told me that the corporate chef had won awards with the porchetta in the past, and after a few bites I could see why. This Italian-rolled pork shoulder is braised for hours with herbs and garlic so it melts in your mouth. The Shrimp Diablo might be the next one to win an award, as the creamy red pepper sauce had just the right amount of spice and a lovely toasted garlic finish. The shrimp are large and cooked perfectly.

Even though we were full, we soldiered on to try Lemon Pound Cake ($6). This moist cake had just the right relationship between sweet and sour and was topped with some fresh blueberry puree. It was a solid finish to a great meal.

I usually like to give new restaurants a little time to work out the kinks before sharing my thoughts with our readers, but, in this case, I made an exception, as it seemed to me that there were no kinks that needed working out. One of the many advantages a small restaurant company enjoys is the ability to send seasoned staff and managers to help open a new location, which makes the whole process considerably smoother and more enjoyable for the patrons. Our server was very well-trained and made some very good food and wine recommendations.

I think Louie’s Wine Dive will make an excellent addition to the West Omaha restaurant scene, and I am already looking forward to my next visit.

Cheers!

Louie’s Wine Dive
16920 Wright Plz., Ste. 118
402-884-8966
louieswinedive.com

RATING (5 Stars Possible)

Food & Beverage: ****
Service: ***
Ambiance: ***
Price: Moderate
Overall: ***1/2

Becka’s Back

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The unmistakable voice that many in Omaha have come to love (or, if we’re honest, love to hate) has returned to the airwaves. In January, radio talk show host and Benson High School grad Tom Becka found himself in a familiar seat back in Dundee. (Not a Dundee Dell barstool; although, Becka is known to wax poetic on the air about his love for the Dell’s single malt scotch selection.)

Many recently remember Becka from his weekday afternoon show on KFAB (1110 AM), located in the heart of Dundee. But in October 2011, the decision was made to end Becka’s tenure with KFAB and its parent company, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Becka insists the decision was issued not locally, but at the corporate level: “I didn’t fit their line-item formula.”

Becka then headed north for about a year, landing a job as program director for an FM talk station in Fargo, N.D. But not long after Becka set up shop, he was lured back to Omaha, sort of, hosting an afternoon talk show on KKAR (1290 AM). KKAR is owned by NRG Media and located in Becka’s old stomping grounds near 50th and Dodge streets. He pulled double-duty for several months: waking pre-dawn to host a morning talk show, managing the radio station and all its moving parts, and then prepping for his two-hour afternoon show in Omaha (broadcasting from a makeshift studio fashioned in his West Fargo apartment).

But the sale of the Fargo radio station gave Becka an opportunity to return to Omaha and pursue radio full-time…once again, in his beloved Dundee. “The Tom Becka Show” airs from 2 to 6 p.m. on 1290 AM, now dubbed the Mighty 1290 KOIL. “I am genuinely excited about helping rebuild this legendary radio station,” Becka says. “By working at 1290 KOIL…I can focus on what is happening here in Omaha, and not have to worry about what they say at the home office in Texas.”

“I always wanted to be in radio, but didn’t think I could do it with my voice.”

KFAB was Becka’s home not once, but twice. He launched his talk radio career at “the 50,000-watt blowtorch” in 1994, but left five years later for an on-air job in Kansas City. He returned to Omaha (and KFAB) in 2004, where he remained until his termination in 2011.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Becka moved to Omaha his junior year of high school. (“When you move outside of Omaha and tell people your high school mascot was a bunny, they think you’re making it up.”) He studied at UNO and was active with the university’s radio station, KVNO (90.7 FM).

Although talk radio would become his wheelhouse, Becka fell hard when he discovered rock and roll. An AM Cleveland DJ by the name of Jerry G played popular tracks overnight. “He was the king of Cleveland Top 40 radio. Even though I was supposed to be asleep, I would hide a radio under the blankets and listen until late at night,” he recalls. “I always wanted to be in radio, but didn’t think I could do it with my voice.”

Becka’s voice has become his signature statement: fast, high-pitched, loud, and always laced with his own opinion, whether listeners like it or not.

His career has been spent in an industry rife with obstacle, ratings, and setbacks. Becka says he has learned perseverance, adapting to change, and how to maintain friendships when lines are drawn in the sand. “I have fond memories of my time at KFAB and a lot of respect for my friends who are still working there,” Becka says. “But I am really excited about competing against them. I like to think of it as a football player who has been traded to another team. My job is to beat them, but we can remain friends off the field.”