Tag Archives: Old Market

Urban Evolution

January 8, 2019 by
Photography by William Hess Photography

Steve and Julie Burgess were enjoying a glass of wine at La Buvette when the idea hit Julie like a ton of old bricks. While admiring the Old Market’s lovely brick buildings, redesigned from warehouses into homes, and imagining the minimalist ease of urban living, it occurred to Julie that she and Steve had access to a beautiful, old, downtown building that they could renovate into their own modern living space.

Automatic Printing Co. has been in Julie’s family for generations, housed in three adjacent buildings at 17th and Cuming streets. In early 2017, Julie, who works at Automatic, and Steve, who does commercial architecture for DLR Group, began the process of redesigning the easternmost building into what is now their happy home. 

“I’m grateful because I just knew it was possible, but I couldn’t see what it would look like,” Julie says. “Steve has that knack; he works with spaces and can see it without it being there.”

Serendipitously, Automatic Printing Co. was looking to downsize its space just as the Burgesses were. The Burgesses, along with Julie’s sister Jana, had lived together in a sprawling Dundee home for 16 years. Despite their substantial investment of time and money in renovating that home, the 6,000-square-foot house situated on three-quarters of an acre ultimately took too much effort to care for and was not ideal for Jana, a traumatic brain injury survivor with mobility issues. 

In April 2017, the family moved from their house on Happy Hollow Boulevard to the Tip Top Apartments, where they would remain during a 15-month detour between homes before moving into their new space on Cuming Street in July 2018. 

The Burgesses partnered with Geoff DeOld and Emily Andersen of DeOld Andersen Architecture to create the new home of their dreams in the old family building. Julie says they were blessed to find DeOld and Andersen due to their experience working with older buildings and willingness to design for the Burgesses’ lifestyle and logistical needs.

“Emily and Geoff visited us at our old house to see how we lived,” Julie says. “They really listened and observed how Jana moved around, how we used our space, and the things that mattered to us.”

Steve came to the conversation with his architectural mindset and relevant examples for reference.

“I combed through images of many historic building renovation projects and collected a handful of pictures to show them the direction we wanted to go,” Steve says.

For DeOld and Andersen, working with Steve and Julie was a dream.

“Steve and Julie were really great to work with—seriously the best clients we’ve ever had,” Andersen says. “There’s a certain language we [and Steve] share as architects and Julie is extremely open-minded. It made the project better and smoother.”

Andersen says they started by using components they knew to be most important to the family—bringing natural light into a space with scant existing windows, accessibility for Jana and the Burgesses as they age, outdoor spaces, and a proper kitchen for Steve, who loves to cook—as anchors for the design plan.

A singular front patio gate inspired by Lebanese design and strategic skylights brought in light; an elevator and second-floor laundry facilities gave Jana the gift of independence; a rooftop patio ably mimics their old Dundee terrace, and the kitchen is spacious and well-appointed enough to satisfy any chef. 

There were also happy discoveries along the way that ultimately informed aesthetics. For example, the Burgesses intended to put in new flooring until a gorgeous Douglas fir wood floor was found under layers of history and alternate flooring. 

“The wood floor informed a lot of the other decisions—the paneling on the wall, the bookshelves, the butcher’s block in the kitchen—all the wood touches started to come out after that,” Steve says. “The texture and history of this place is wonderful.”

“To me, this project was largely about just revealing the existing building, but then also the insertion of the new structural steel frame. It was actually very simple in some regards but complex to execute,” Andersen says, noting that the project’s success depended heavily on a robust team of partners, including contractor Dicon; structural and civil engineers with The Wells Resource; and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers from Alvine Engineering.

Andersen says the project is an example of adaptive reuse—adapting an existing building to a new use—which she notes is key to creating intriguing urban landscapes.

“These can become really cool projects because there’s this existing building with its own history and this overlap of uses,” Andersen says. “There are constraints with that but also the ability to be very creative and develop way more interesting environments—where you have a collection of different types and styles of structures, which ultimately leads to a way more interesting neighborhood and city.”

While their home is on such hallowed, familiar family ground, neither Steve nor Julie had ever lived in new construction until now.

“It’s interesting. In a 100-year-old building, we’re living in new construction,” Julie says with a laugh.

“It’s really a joy to live in a space that you helped design,” Steve says. “You have the opportunity to think through the layout, the circulation, the proximity and adjacencies of spaces…It’s a nice feeling and there’s a real sense of satisfaction in how well it turned out.”

After investing more than $1 million in their new home and finding it the perfect fit, Steve and Julie were disheartened to see that the Builder’s District plan—approved by the City Council in October 2018—shows their home and family business wiped off the map through the power of eminent domain.

Andersen says that result would be a shame. In addition to representing what she calls “a very old model of working within a city” that ignores the need for community engagement and transparency, Andersen believes the demolition of old buildings like this is not ideal for Omaha’s architectural landscape nor its ability to retain talent and combat “brain drain.”

“We need to be thinking creatively about our existing buildings instead of just demolishing them,” she says. “Having urban neighborhoods with a collection of different conditions or types of buildings lends itself to a richer experience than areas that are completely monoculture of the similar scale and generic design. To me, they should be thinking about how they can integrate Automatic Printing and some of the other perfectly OK structures in the area into the current plan, because it would result in a more interesting development.”

In the meantime, as the Burgesses hope to be able to keep their new home in the old family building, they’re enjoying the neighborhood and basking in the memories of years spent in their special space.

“Not only is it beautiful and functional, but I sit in the living room at night and just marvel because I can see the shadows of what used to be here,” Julie says. “I look around and know that, about where Jana’s chair is, that’s where our dad’s desk sat for all those years. I think my dad might say we were crazy to do it, but he would also get it and think it was a pretty neat progression.”


Learn more about the Burgess residence at d-aarch.com/cuming-street-residence.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Chill, Thrills, and Fulfillment

October 25, 2018 by

Subscribe to this free weekly newsletter here.

Pick of the Week—Friday, Oct. 26: Costumes and Karaoke? That’s what’s in store for you at HallowQUEENS Karaoke at The B. Bar. Dress as your favorite queen, diva, or (memeber of) Queen, and spend your Friday night belting out your favorite power-princess songs (or power ballad). There is a costume contest, so flaunt your best look and you might win something. Wear something you can move in, because at midnight the bar will magically turn into one big dance floor. Show up and show out. Learn more here.

Thursday, Oct. 25: Yes, it’s that time again—Time Warp time. By now you’ve probably had a taste of this ‘70s classic and it’s left you wanting more. The Max is here to fulfill that need with the 15th Annual Rocky Horror Picture Show—an Interactive Movie Experience. Are you shivering with antici…pation yet? You should be. Five dollars gets you in, plus a prop bag, and popcorn. Don’t be afraid to come on up to the “lab” in your best drag. You don’t need a satanic mechanic in order to attend, but you can be one if you dream it. As you should, since there is a costume contest after the show. Just click here dammit, Janet.

Friday, Oct. 26 to Saturday, Oct. 27: Friday, Oct. 26 to Saturday, Oct. 27: Tired of all the marching? Mix it up by adding a little writing. Attend Writing Dangerously: The Art of Activism at the Fort Omaha Campus of Metropolitan Community College to learn how, or to improve on what you know. This two-day event promotes original and inspired writing, as well as aspiring and professional authors. Friday night’s opening session features a poetry slam (with prizes, for registrants only). The final session on Saturday is an interview and Q&A with keynote speaker, renowned poet and editor Morgan Parker. Register here now.

Saturday, Oct 27: What’s spookier than a little goblin looking for food in the forest? The answer is…a whole pack of the little monsters! Experience the horror for yourself when you attend Trick or Treat in the Forest at Fontenelle Forest. Be sure to bring your own little goblins along to join in the fun…I mean, frightfulness! Take to the woods and find some candy, but stay away from that gingerbread-looking house. S’mores, cocoa, crafts, and more will be available to help ward off the goosebumps. Face your fears by clicking here.

Sunday, Oct. 28: This one has it all, so don’t miss the Fall Market Festival in the Old Market. This fun, free, family, fall excursion includes activity booths, free books (while they last), a pet costume contest, and some spooky science. Besides all that and the normal costumed, trick-or-treating for candy, there will be interactive displays from the Omaha Police and Fire departments. This includes a police helicopter to check out! If all the excitement is getting to you, grab a chair massage or a carriage ride. Forgot your costume? Don’t fret. Stop by Victor/Victoria to get your face painted. Get the full lowdown here.

SPECIAL EVENTThursday, Nov. 8: There are only two weeks left to get tickets to the Best of Omaha Soirée: A Night of the Best. This celebration of our Best of Omaha contest winners will be one for the books, so get it in your book now. VIP tickets are almost gone, but GA tix still get you in to see the circus-style entertainment. You’ll also get to sip on (two free!) cocktails, munch on tasty treats from some of our winners, and listen to sweet tunes spun by DJ Shor-T. Twist on over here for tickets.
Check out our sponsors below for a preview of what to expect. And if you don’t already follow us on Instagram, be sure to do so by Monday afternoon! (There may be a contest afoot.)

September/October 2018 Destinations

September 10, 2018 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

Aksarben Village

Run, don’t walk, to Aksarben Village this September and October. Then run. Or walk. At last count there were SEVEN run/walk fundraisers scheduled for the Village this fall. The lineup:

Sept. 8, 9-11 a.m.—Siena Francis House 5K Walk/Run.

Sept. 9, 8-11 a.m.—38th Omaha Corporate Cup 10K Run and 2 Mile Walk benefiting the American Lung Association.

Sept. 22, 5:30-8:30 p.m.—Light The Night benefit for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Sept. 29, 8-10 p.m.—Glow N’ Go 5K fundraiser for St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Oct. 6, 3 a.m. to 12 p.m.—Market to Market Relay, the largest day-long relay in the nation. Aksarben Village is the starting point—with 19 exchanges and 76 miles to follow.

Oct. 7, 7-11 a.m.—Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Baxter Arena honors those lost to breast cancer.

aksarbenvillage.com/calendar

Benson

Dying to take the stage and sing or strum…or both at the same time if you’re so talented? You can do this every Monday night starting at 7 p.m. at the 402 Arts Collective (6051 Maple St.). Amateur musicians can bring their instrument of choice, sign up, and play to an audience for up to 15 minutes. Who knows where that quarter-hour will take you? As 402 blogger Camryn Bowers wrote, “They are the bridge that fills the gap between playing alone in your bedroom and playing a sold-out show in a respected venue.” So get out of your bedroom and cross that bridge.

402artscollective.org  

Blackstone

Noli’s sister has moved into the Blackstone. Noli’s Pizzeria, that is. And we’re talking sister restaurant Ansel’s Pastrami & Bagels. Taking residence at Noli’s former residence, 4007 Farnam St., Ansel’s boasts bagels and bread made using the same filtration system that delivers the mineral content of New York water. The suggested pairing, as you might guess, is with the pastrami, though a half-dozen other sandwiches are also on the menu. In it for the bagels? Try one with lox and plain cream cheese for a true NYC experience.

anselsomaha.com  

Capitol District

More growth at the Capitol District is music to Omaha’s ears—literally. In May, developers announced more new businesses coming in 2018, including two that are musically inclined—Moe & Curley’s karaoke venue and The Jewell jazz club. Moe & Curly’s has already made a name for itself with its original West Omaha location where in-house DJs spin requests seven nights a week. It opened its Capitol location this summer. Owner Ben Heairet also is bringing Howard & Fine, a speakeasy featuring craft cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, to the Capitol District. Meanwhile, the high-end Jewell will bring major national acts to the district, as well as featuring local, emerging artists in an intimate setting. A cocktail lounge and fine dining will be available at The Jewell, accessible from the Marriott. It opens this fall. Also coming to Capitol in 2018 are eateries Época Cantina, a local venture, and national chain Burgerim.

capitoldistrictomaha.com  

Dundee

You think you know Dundee? You might think again after taking a walk with a history expert from the Nebraska Tour Co. through Omaha’s first suburb. The company’s Dundee District Walks begin at Memorial Park for the early birds, or at Pitch for the official start of the tour. From there, ramble through the district that boasts roots dating to 1880. Be sure to wear your walking shoes, as the tour can cover a total of 10 city blocks. Prices vary by group size and can be booked 24 hours in advance. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with Omaha
and its numerous unique neighborhoods. 

nebraskatourcompany.com  

Midtown

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is known for keeping things quiet during movies, but it’s hard to keep quiet about its big news—Alamo is coming to the heart of Midtown Crossing with its second Omaha location. Known for having a strict no-cell phone and no-talking policy when flicks are on the screen, Alamo will replace Marcus Cinema at 3201 Farnam St., Suite 6111, putting the previous digs under a $2.5 million renovation by the time of its expected opening in late 2018. Alamo will feature five screens, recliner seats, in-seat dining, and beers from local craft breweries. Based in Austin, Texas and heralded by Entertainment Weekly as “the best theater in the world,” Alamo opened its first metro-area theater in La Vista.

drafthouse.com/omaha  

NoDo

It’s been 35 years of scaring the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks out of people at Mystery Manor, which opens another scream-filled season Friday, Sept. 14. The haunted house (716 N. 18th St.), built in 1887, is said to be the site of three gruesome murders soon after the stock market crash of 1929. Owner William Hall, it’s claimed, axed his wife, Greta. Her brother, John Martin, then killed William with the same axe a week later. Soon thereafter, on Halloween, Martin was found dead with the axe embedded in his skull. Ghosts are said to reside at the manor to this day. Still want to go? If you’re still reading this, that’s probably a yes.

mysterymanoromaha.org  

Old Market

We didn’t think it was possible, but First Fridays in the Old Market have gotten better. First Fridays offers tours of Old Market galleries and artists and are held—surprise!—the first Friday of each month from 6-9 p.m. This round, that’s Sept. 7 and Oct. 5. But FFs are even better now with free parking (southwest corner of 13th & Leavenworth) and free Ollie the Trolley rides throughout the historic streets and district.

firstfridayoldmarket.com

Vinton Street

It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from the historic Vinton Street District, but you just might be hopping, skipping, and jumping with joy that you went the extra distance to visit nearby Bancroft Street Market. Located at 2702 S. 10th St., the one-time neighborhood grocery store is now a venue for art exhibitions, specialty markets, music, and performances. There’s plenty of room, too, with a 4,500-square-foot main gallery and a 15,000 square foot outdoor festival area.

bancroftstreetmarket.com 

24th and Lake

Lofty heights are being reached in the 24th and Lake District. And we’re literally talking lofts (and heights). In April, the Union for Contemporary Art revealed plans for its arts-based community development project, the Artist Lofts at Lake Street. The project is one of 89 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” projects selected nationwide and is being developed in collaboration with the Omaha Economic Development Corporation and the City of Omaha. The lofts, to be built on a vacant lot at 2221 Lake Street, would offer live/work spaces for artists.

u-ca.org/artist-lofts  


This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter. 

The Last Breakfast

September 3, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s the weekend before the Fourth of July, and The Diner is doing its final breakfast service at the corner of 12th and Harney streets. 

Business is brisk, but not frenzied. There’s still a seat or two at the bar, but if you want a booth, there’s no line. Contrast that to the week before, when the College World Series was happening: the line was out the door, and patrons hoping to get a final taste of The Diner’s 50s-style ambiance were told to expect an hour wait. 

One reason for The Diner’s relatively unassuming final weekend was because it was only closed for about three days (the typical duration for your standard resurrection). You see, The Diner is already up and running in its new location at Billy Frogg’s. Owners Ken Schroeder and Rick Daly planned to serve breakfast there on July 4. 

“Oddly enough, the Fourth of July is a huge breakfast day,” Schroeder says. 

Even though The Diner lives on, Schroeder, Daly, and its patrons lamented on the loss of the institution that has been around since 1983. A few diners on its last weekend didn’t even know The Diner was going away. Other longtime regulars followed Daly and Schroeder’s saga closely. 

Connie MacNabb brought her grandchildren for one final breakfast. As her grandkids teased one another and bounced on the booth, MacNabb looked over the menu. Connie and her late husband, James, began going to The Diner in 1980s. The place reminded her of Lake Okoboji. 

“It’s terrible we always get rid of all of our landmarks,” MacNabb says. 

Roy House has been a daily Diner eater for years. His go-to is the No. 4: two eggs, hash browns, toast, and a choice of meat (his being the oven-cooked bacon). For House, it’s the best bacon he’s ever tasted. And while he’s happy to see The Diner live on, he’d rather have it at the (now) old location. 

“I think it sucks. This is really the only old-style diner we have around here,” House says. 

There are still traditional diners around Omaha, among them Lisa’s Radial Cafe, Harold’s Koffee House, and Leo’s Diner. But the loss of The Diner was especially bitter to some because of how its closing played out. 

Schroeder and Daly were shocked when they first heard they were going to lose their restaurant this past February. Daly received a text from a KETV reporter, asking about The Diner’s fate. Daly says he didn’t know what the reporter was talking about. He then learned about how Michael Henery, who owned the plot of land where The Diner sat, sold it for $1.5 million (he bought it in 2006 for $650,000). Daly was then told of a planning meeting about a Marriott that was going to be constructed. Daly’s first thoughts were panic-inducing. 

“We’re going to be jobless and homeless,” Daly says, recalling his initial fears. 

Schroeder says he harbors no bitterness toward Henery. Though their business relationship was sometimes contentious, Schroeder says they eventually became friends. 

“[Henery] got a reputation of being crusty and harsh, and he lived up to that,” Schroeder says. “You can be mad at him for a lot of reasons, but you can’t be mad at him for selling the diner. He’s in his 80s. He wants to liquidate his assets.” 

For the first few weeks after hearing the news, Schroeder says The Diner’s fate changed almost daily. At first, he was told they had to be out by April 15. Then, July 1. Eventually, they were allowed to stay through the College World Series. 

Throughout the spring, Schroeder and Daly weighed their options. Physically moving the building to a new location wasn’t an option. Nor was setting up The Diner inside the new Marriott (Schroeder says the company wanted their own eating establishment). They considered moving The Diner into the old Dixie Quicks location in Council Bluffs, but the building’s owners were looking for a “white tablecloth-style restaurant,” Schroeder says. 

Finally, John Feddin, owner of Billy Frogg’s, reached out to Schroeder and Daly. 

“I heard they were leaving, and I felt so bad,” Feddin says. 

Feddin proposed that Daly and Schroeder could expand Billy Frogg’s menu. In addition, they could also take over the old Tea Smith location (which is next to Billy Frogg’s). Daly purchased an espresso machine, and christened the new coffee shop “The Diner Guy’s…Java Daddies.” 

Schroeder says one reason they chose to continue at Billy Frogg’s was to keep The Diner family intact. He didn’t want any employment gap for their existing employees. For Schroeder, The Diner is literally a family affair. It’s where he proposed to Daly. 

In August 2016, Schroeder closed The Diner early, and set Daly off to run some errands. While Daly was gone, Schroeder turned The Diner into what looked like the set of ABC’s The Bachelor—complete with candles and roses. Daly says about 250 people came to their wedding; half were regulars of the Diner. 

On its last weekend, even the radio seemed to be playing on people’s emotions. Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree” played over the PA, summing up the feeling of resignation for many: 

“There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me, and we just disagree.” 

In the kitchen, Florencio Salgado was finishing an omelet and tending to another batch of hash browns. Salgado has worked at The Diner for almost 30 years. Salgado says he spends more time at The Diner than he does at home. He says the new digs are going to be a tighter fit than his old workstation. Still, he says he is looking forward to The Diner’s next chapter. 

“What we have is really beautiful,” Salgado says. 


Visit @omahacoffeetruck on Facebook for the latest manifestation of The Diner, aka “The Diner Guy’s…Java Daddies.” 

This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Pinot and Pumps

August 12, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

While customers filled up their cars with gas, I filled up on a five-course meal and knocked back glasses of fine California wines. A gas station is the last place most people would go for fancy dining, but once a month local food and wine lovers gather around tables—set up just beyond the racks of Slim Jims and smokes—at the Old Market Cubby’s to savor elegant dishes paired with wines.

It’s not uncommon these days to find good, affordable bottles of vino at convenience stores, but few offer wine-tasting dinners like Cubby’s has for the last decade. The downtown Omaha convenience store, which includes a deli, produce section, and meat counter, hosts the popular wine dinners on the third Wednesday of the month. Cubby’s kitchen crew prepares the food on-site, and the menu, designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes, changes each month. 

Whether guests are casual wine drinkers or connoisseurs, the dinners provide a chance to enhance their knowledge—perhaps my favorite aspect of the event. At a recent dinner, fine wine specialist John Ursick of Omaha and others were on hand to describe the nuances of each wine and answer questions. The dinners are a relative bargain at $30 per person. Portions are generous, and so are the pours.

Crostini topped with olive tapenade and sliced prosciutto

On my visit, the first course featured a flavorful flatbread layered with dried apricot and figs, prosciutto, and fresh arugula. Edible flowers scattered on top provided an extra pop of color, while the sweetness of the dried fruit combined perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto. Also good was the accompanying glass of smooth, fruity chardonnay from The Crusher Wines.

A textural and visual delight, crostini topped with olive tapenade and sliced prosciutto was a satisfying blend of crispy, salty, and savory, but I would have preferred the prosciutto shaved thin. A juicy, easy-drinking red blend, also from The Crusher Wines, complemented the dish beautifully.

I also enjoyed a plate of plump, tender crab cakes that had a generous amount of lump crabmeat and a crispy, golden brown exterior. A glass of full-bodied Chardonnay from B Side Wines on California’s North Coast delighted with its crisp finish.

Crab cakes

Shrimp scampi arrived buttery, lemony, and just garlicky enough, but the accompanying pasta was slightly overcooked. It came paired with a Don & Sons pinot noir from Sonoma County, in the heart of wine country.

For dessert, a version of frozen s’mores delivered all the flavors one would expect from the classic childhood treat: graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow. A scoop of homemade bubblegum ice cream in the center was luscious and creamy, but the flavor clashed with the other ingredients. The dessert’s sweetness paired well with the slightly smoky notes of the Gunsight Rock cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles.

Although a gas station is no match for the ambiance of a rustic winery or cozy bistro, wine dinners at Cubby’s are a fun way to sample a variety of bites and learn more about wine in a relaxed, casual, and unconventional setting. 

Cubby’s Old Market Grocery and Catering

601 S. 13th St. | 402.341.2900 

FOOD 3.5 stars
SERVICE 4 stars
AMBIANCE 3 stars
PRICE $$
OVERALL 3.5 stars


Visit cubbys.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. 

Flatbread layered with dried apricot, figs, prosciutto, and fresh arugula

The Evolution of Omaha Farmers Market

August 1, 2018 by
Photography by provided by Vic Gutman & Associates

It’s 8:30 a.m. and shoppers are standing by the Ed Welchert Produce stall in Aksarben Village on any given Sunday in the summer. The Omaha Farmers Market won’t open for another 30 minutes, giving Donna and Ed Welchert (and their team of employees) precious minutes to finish setting up the stand. At 9 a.m., it’s time to sell. 

The Welcherts have been a staple of the Omaha Farmers Market since it began downtown 25 years ago. The locations and days of the week have changed—and the crowds have grown—as the market gradually evolved into a refined citywide network of markets with corporate sponsors.

Omaha Farmers Market began in 1994 with a small group of vendors in the Old Market. At the time, Ed Welchert had been farming land north of Omaha with his family for decades, selling his produce wholesale direct to stores like Foodway and Baker’s. When the Welcherts heard about the concept of an outdoor bazaar starting in the Old Market, they figured they ought to check it out. 

Not knowing what to expect, they sent one employee with a card table and a couple of wicker baskets full of produce. It fit in one pickup truck.

“It was a slow start,” remembers Donna, recalling how their employee brought almost all of the produce back to the farm that day.

“The people started coming, and kept coming, and kept coming,” Donna says. Her husband estimates it was a good 10 years before things really picked up, and when they did, it just jumped in attendance, he says. 

Kent Cisar, an Omaha native, started shopping at the Omaha Farmers Market around that time. 

“I loved the vibe of the market back then,” he recalls. “I think the early days of the market for me was shopping with friends who were committed to buying local, high-quality items.”

It wasn’t the first time farmers sold their goods in the Old Market. Agrarians originally sold fruits and vegetables wholesale to restaurants and grocery stores at the City Market. It was a bustling trade in the 1880s, but the growth of grocery store warehouses ended the market in 1964. Ed vaguely recalls traveling with his father, Ray Welchert, to the City Market. Ray was a vendor there, as was Ed’s grandfather. 

In time, the third generation of Welcherts saw their stand grow along with the Omaha Farmers Market. The Welcherts eventually needed to bring three trucks for equipment and produce. 

As Ed Welchert Produce brought more crops, the Omaha Farmers Market added more vendors and locations. The downtown farmers market has expanded to more than 90 booths. In 2010, the Omaha Farmers Market added a second location, Aksarben Village, on Sundays. The Sunday market now has more than 115 vendor booths. A third, smaller Omaha Farmers Market runs on Wednesdays in July and August at Charles Drew Health Center.

The old City Market (bottom right) predated the 25-year-old Omaha Farmers Market downtown.

Cisar has his favorite vendors. He first bought bacon from North Star Neighbors. When they stopped vending, he discovered Crooked Creek Farms. When they switched to selling only at Aksarben Village, Cisar sought them out there.

“The Aksarben Market is now the better market. There’s more vendors, a bit more space, and since it’s centrally located, on nice days it’s jammed, which I like,” Cisar says. “But if you want to get [specific] items, you better get there before 10 a.m., otherwise [they] may be gone. The Downtown Market isn’t as busy with patrons or vendors these days, but it’s still home. I love the Aksarben area and what it’s done for our city, but nothing can replicate the vibe of brick, old buildings and fresh food of the downtown market.”

Other local farmers markets not affiliated with the officially branded “Omaha Farmers Market” include the Florence Mill Farmers Market (on Sundays at the Florence Mill), the Benson Farmers Market (normally held on Saturdays, but discontinued in 2018 after the loss of the Benson market location), and the Village Pointe Farmers Market (Saturdays).

The Welcherts tried to sell at both the Old Market and Aksarben Village locations, but “it about killed us,” Donna says. After 21 years in the Old Market, the Welcherts switched to just Sundays in Aksarben.

The Welcherts typically sell green beans and potatoes. In recent years, they began diversifying their offerings as they noticed younger customers’ changing preferences.

“The younger crowd is more health conscious,” Ed says. 

Donna noticed the shift in customers, too. The first year they brought kohlrabi, she says just the older customers knew what to do with it. “Over the next two years, you saw this huge shift when younger people came and asked for it.”

Count Cisar among the crowd of novelty-seeking shoppers. 

“I think my favorite days of shopping at the market are when I go down with an open mind and let the items I see do the talking,” Cisar says. “I’m always attracted to things I haven’t seen before, like a unique eggplant, squash, or [other] vegetable, and I like asking the vendor how to use it, how it tastes—and, if I was successful, I tell them about it
next week.”  


Vic Gutman & Associates manages Omaha Farmers Market, which hosts vendors selling fresh produce at the Old Market (Saturdays), Aksarben Village (Sundays), and Charles Drew Health Center (Wednesdays) in the summer, in addition to other specialty markets throughout the year. Visit omahafarmersmarket.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of 60Plus in Omaha.

Downtown’s old City Market

Encounter Destinations

July 18, 2018 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

AKSARBEN VILLAGE

Maha Music Festival (Aug. 17-18 at Stinson Park) marks 10 years in 2018, but the all-day, all-night music cornucopia is anything but stale and wheezy. In fact, it’s fresher than ever—and getting Weezer, who will just be coming off their summer tour. The popular band that cut its chops in the 1990s headlines Saturday night. Also taking the stage will be Father John Misty, TV on the Radio, The Kills, and more than a dozen other acts.

mahamusicfestival.com/2018 

Meanwhile, just getting its start in Aksarben Village is the High Vibe Festival, now on its second year. Omaha’s premier yoga, music, and plant-based food festival happens on Saturday, Aug. 11, and features a 5K run, live music, all-day yoga, conscious workshops, and “good vibes.”

highvibefestival.com 

BENSON

It’s back—but you’ll have to go yourself to see if it’s better than ever. We’re talking about Benson Days, the annual get down in downtown B-town set this year for July 28 and 29. The family-friendly summer festival will feature a pancake breakfast, parade, dozens of vendors, art, live music, children’s activities, and more. And back after a year off is The Indie: Scale the Benson Alps, a 5K/10K road race that takes runners past some of Benson’s hot spots. Perhaps best of all, you can feel good giving your green for all that fun—Benson Days proceeds support neighborhood projects.

bensondays.com 

BLACKSTONE

Know any Nebraska bars certified as a tequileria? If you said Mula in the Blackstone District (40th & Farnam streets), give yourself a pat on the back. Give yourself another if you know what a tequileria is. According to their website, such certification means at least 80 percent of a bar’s staff has studied the history, production, and regulation of tequila—from harvesting the agave plant in Jalisco fields to its fermentation and distillation. That means tequila tastiness for patrons in Old and New World styles. The dedication to perfection extends to Mula’s “street style” menu for lunch and dinner.

mulaomaha.com 

CAPITOL

Got an hour? Good. Use it to get to know your body—or really, everybody’s body—at the nationally touring exhibition Our Body: The Universe Within. The exhibit runs through
July 31 at 225 N. 12th St. Visitors get a look at the inner workings of human anatomy by presentation of actual human specimens, anatomical displays, reproductions of historic anatomical artwork, and more. If you’ve got the guts, you also have the opportunity to touch a human heart, kidney, liver, and brain. The self-guided tour is $15 per person, with discounts for
seniors, students, children, and military personnel.

ourbodyomaha.com  

DUNDEE

Like live music? What about a beer garden? Running? Food? Fun? Then the 18th annual Dundee Day is calling your name. This year’s Dundee Day is set for Saturday, Aug. 25, and begins with the traditional pancake breakfast, early morning Rundee 5K (undies encouraged), and a parade. There’s also an art fair, the Dundee Bank Street Olympics for kids, music from local bands, and a Memorial Park beer garden. Plenty of chow and vendors will be on hand, along with a farmers market.

dundee-memorialpark.org 

MIDTOWN

If no news is good news, does that mean some news is bad news? Not at Midtown Crossing, where there’s been lots of news. The good news is there’s a new place to please your palate, 5168 Brewing Taproom, now open at 3201 Farnam St. (Suite No. 6107). There’s a full lunch and dinner menu to complement 5168’s brews, long popular at the outfit’s original location in Lincoln.

5168brewing.com  

Other good news comes with the announcement of the lineup for Playing with Fire, Midtown’s free summer concert series. The 2018 lineup mixes local and international talent, rocking Turner Park with blues-rock, soul, funk, and R&B. The July 14 jam features five bands, including headliner Jack de Keyzer. On Aug. 25 another five bands kick it, with Paul Reddick Band bringing things to a crescendo.

playingwithfireomaha.net  

NODO

Typically, the Hot Shops Art Center has an open-door policy. The NoDo studio center is closed in June for repairs. But it’s open for business again beginning in July, with at least three events worthy of getting you down to 1301 Nicholas St.—the Mike Godek and Susan Woodford sculpture show, the Claire Caswell exhibit, and Interpretation, (a group show). Be patient, and you will be rewarded.

hotshopsartcenter.com 

OLD MARKET

Looking for something fresh to do in the Old Market? It doesn’t get much fresher than the Omaha Farmer’s Market. With roots going back nearly 100 years, its current incarnation is now celebrating its 25th year. They’ve been offering fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods, and flowers every year since 1994, doing so on 11th Street from Jackson to Howard streets, with nearly 100 vendors in attendance. Keep an eye out for new additions, including a biscuits-and-gravy booth. This market runs 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 13.

omahafarmersmarket.com  

VINTON STREET

Chances are, the name Louis Marcuzzo doesn’t ring a bell. Chances are, Louie M’s Burger Lust does. Consider this entry us ringing the dinner bell—and breakfast and lunch bells—for the iconic Vinton Street restaurant that dates it roots to the catering service Marcuzzo began in 1980. Today they serve breakfast and lunch seven days a week and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. The menu is extensive, showcasing, of course, burgers—nearly two dozen options are listed. But there are also starters, salads, and sandwiches, daily lunch specials, and a plethora of breakfast offerings guaranteed to start your day with a smile.

louiemsburgerlust.com 

24TH AND LAKE

All your future adventures in the 24th and Lake district should include a consideration of the past. And there’s no better place to do so than at the Great Plains Black History Museum at 2221 N. 24th St. For more than 40 years the museum has been preserving, celebrating, and educating visitors about the contributions and achievements of the region’s vibrant African-American heritage. Recent offerings include displays on the Tuskegee Airmen who called Nebraska home, a history of the Omaha chapter of the NAACP, and an exhibit on Nebraska football great Johnny Rodgers. More great looks into the past are coming…in the future.

gpblackhistorymuseum.org 


This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter. 

1992 First Annual Best of Omaha Award Winners

July 10, 2018 by and

Below are the results of the first ever Best of Omaha Survey contest. 100,000 ballots were distributed, and winners were selected in 56 categories. The results are reproduced here as published in the March/April 1992 edition of Omaha Magazine.

The 2019 contest winners will be announced at the Best of Omaha Soiree on November 8. Get your tickets here: https://localstubs.com/events/best-of-omaha-soiree.

Best Family Restaurant

1. The Garden Cafe
2. Grandmother’s Restaurant and Lounge
3. Old Country Buffet
3. Valentino’s

Best Salon

1. Salon Tino
2. Garbo’s
3. Haircrafters

Best Omaha Tradition

1. River City Roundup
2. College World Series
3. Mannheim Steamroller

Best Annual Event

1. River City Roundup
2. College World Series
3. Septemberfest

Best Travel Agency

1. Travel & Transport Inc.
2. AAA Travel Agency
3. Pegasus Travel Center
3. Younkers Travel Service

Best Bakery

1. The Garden Cafe
2. Gerda’s Bakery
3. Hy-Vee Bakery

Best Yogurt

1. TCBY Yogurt
2. I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt
3. Dannon

Best Nursery

1. Earl May Nursery & Garden Center
2. Mulhall’s Nursery
3. The Yard Co.

Best People Watching

1. Malls
2. Old Market
3. Airport

Best Place to Buy CDs and Tapes

1. Homer’s Record Store
2. Pickles Records & Tapes
3. Best Buy

Best Buffet

1. Old Country Buffet
2. Valentino’s
3. The Choice Smorgasbord

Best Happy Hour

1. Arthur’s
2. 3 Cheers
3. Grandmother’s
3. Mickey Finn’s
3. Sports Cafe

Best Financial Institution

1. First National Bank of Omaha
2. Norwest Bank Nebraska NA
3. FirsTier Bank

Best Live Music

1. Ranch Bowl
2. Orpheum Theater
3. Arthur’s

Best Sporting Event

1. College World Series
2. Lancer Hockey
3. Nebraska Football

Best Place to Dance

1. Arthur’s
2. Ranch Bowl
3. Peony Park

Best Place to Take Kids

1. The Henry Doorly Zoo
2. Omaha Childrens Museum
3. Showbiz Pizza Place
3. Peony Park

Best Free Entertainment

1. Jazz on the Green
2. Shakespeare on the Green
3. Music in the Park
3. Old Market

Best Picnic Spot 

1. Elmwood Park
2. Dam Site 16
3. Central Park Mall

Best Men’s Clothing Store

1. Landon’s
2. Dillard
2. Jerry Ryan
2. Younkers
3. Montage

Best Steak House

1. Ross’ Steak House
2. Gorat’s Steak House
3. Johnny’s Cafe

Best Not on Ballot

1. KKCD Radio
2. University of Nebraska at Omaha
3. Baker’s

Best Local Band

1. High Heel & the Sneekers
2. The Rumbles
3. Johnny Ray Gomez

Best Tourist Attraction

1. The Henry Doorly Zoo
2. Old Market
3. Boys Town

Best Deli

1. Spirit World
2. Baker’s
3. Little King

Best Mexican Food

1. Julio’s
2. Romeo’s
3. El Aguila Restaurant

Best Italian Restaurant

1. Grisanti’s Causal Italian Restaurant
2. The Olive Garden
3. Caniglia’s Venice Inn

Best Shopping Center/Mall

1. Crossroads
2. Westroads
3. Oakview Mall

Best Place to Meet Singles

1. Paradise Lounge
2. Grocery Store
3. Arthurs Church

Best Real Estate Company

1. CBS Real Estate
2. Home Real Estate
3. NP Dodge Co.


This article was printed in the March/April 1992 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Sustainable and Authentic

July 3, 2018 by
Photography by Keith Binder

Andrew Saladino could work anywhere in the United States, but he fell in love with, and in, Omaha.

The executive director of the Omaha Creative Institute feels pride for his adopted hometown, and he is invested in unifying, fostering, and growing Omaha’s artistic community.

OCI provides professional development, grants, connections, and advocacy for artists. The nonprofit operates out of a small office kitty-corner to the former Bohemian Cafe on 13th Street.

The 29-year-old is not who you would typically imagine leading such an effort. Saladino grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.

After planning to be a musician, he caught the acting bug and ended up studying theater education at the University of New Hampshire. He landed an internship at The Rose between his junior and senior years, spending his time teaching children’s theater in Omaha.

“I taught all summer long,” Saladino says. “I basically didn’t leave the building.”

The Rose invited him back for a yearlong fellowship program, and he was a teaching artist for another two years at the theater. He met his future wife, Omaha native Jennifer Ettinger, at The Rose after she was hired for the next fellowship.

Saladino followed her to graduate school in New York City for almost two years, but being in such an “exhausting city” made him eager to get back to this “big and small” town.

“I was the one pushing to come back to Omaha,” he says. “This is a great city…I’ve never been in a city that was so active in making itself better.” He was especially attracted to the up-and-coming arts scene, and enjoys spending time at the Bemis Center, KANEKO, the Old Market galleries, and Benson First Fridays.

They moved back in 2015, and he worked at the American Red Cross before landing at OCI.

Watie White, a local artist and OCI board member who was involved in Saladino’s hiring, says the institute needed someone young and talented, “eager for a place to not just call home but a place to really get to grow.” Saladino fit the bill.

“He didn’t come in knowing everything,” White says. “He came in eager to learn everything.”

Since taking over as executive director, Saladino has focused on growing OCI’s programs and the service it provides for artists working in the community. His primary work is long-term strategy, sustainability, fundraising, and the nonprofit’s finances.

One area where Saladino has focused his efforts is growing OCI’s grant program, building off an initial grant funded by donations from an Omaha Gives! campaign to create an established program with funding committed to keep making awards.

OCI currently has a twice-a-year grant cycle, giving four unrestricted artist grants of $3,500 each, with one earmarked for a working parent and one for a new American immigrant or refugee; two public project grants of $5,000 each; and $6,000 in emergency grants, given on an as-needed basis within 48 hours.

Angie Seykora, an artist living and working in Omaha, received one of the 2018 unrestricted grants. She says that she used the money to pay for an assistant, an art history graduate who relocated from New York for a few months to gain experience in a studio environment.

With the assistant’s help, Seykora says she was able to speed up production of her artwork and have more time to refine her pieces.

“It is giving artists an opportunity to make their practice a little more sustainable,” Seykora says. “This grant program has allowed me to organically make my work.”

Promoting more sustainable, authentic careers for working artists is what OCI seeks to do each day. Under Saladino’s leadership, the nonprofit will continue to value artists’ careers in Omaha and provide support for their contribution to the community’s culture.


Visit omahacreativeinstitute.org for more information.

This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

Andrew Saladino