Tag Archives: Omaha

It’s a Makers Weekend

November 15, 2018 by

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Pick of the WeekFriday, Nov. 16:  This Friday is full of good things, thanks to the OEAA Showcases happening at some of your favorite, local music joints in Benson. You can check out full lineups at Burke’s Pub, The B Side, and Barley Street Tavern, or bounce around to catch your favorites. For only $10, your wristband will get you in to see over 15 performances featuring bands, DJs, hip-hop artists, and comedians. Why would you spend your night anywhere else? Get the whole setlist here.

Thursday, Nov. 15:  It’s a magical night at Bayliss Park as they celebrate Winterfest. This free event marks the kickoff of a festive winter wonderland in the park. With Santa, hot cocoa, reindeer, and carolers, tonight will definitely get you in the mood for some holiday fun. Don’t miss the lighting ceremony and a showing of Frosty the Snowman. For the full rundown, click here.

Friday, Nov. 16 to Sunday, Nov. 18: Shopping for the perfect gift for your loved ones? Be sure to check out Junktoberfest at the Southroads Mall in Bellevue where you can choose from collectibles, crafts, handmade pieces, and more. There will also be food and entertainment available for when you need a break from all the mall walking. You have the whole weekend to check it out, but don’t wait until the last day if you want to get the good stuff. Head here for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 17: It’s part Santa’s workshop, part science fair at SAC Museum this Saturday. Their Makers Market celebrates invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, with everyone from engineers to hobbyists to craft brewers in attendance. This is an event for the whole family to experience new forms of arts and technologies. Be sure to check out the puppet shows, yoga workshops, and musical performances throughout the day. Did I mention the duct tape Transformers? (Yes, that’s all duct tape!) Get the full list of all the many ways they’ll have to entertain and educate here.

Sunday, Nov. 18: Spend your lazy, Sunday afternoon supporting local talent at OutrSpaces with poet A.J.K O’Donnell. An Afternoon with A.J.K. O’Donnell will help fund an extension of her book tour, so let’s make it work. Pre-sale tickets include a signed copy of her latest book, This Void Beckons. They will also include early entrance & seating, appetizers, an open bar, and several other perks. There will also be time for dialogue and questions for the author. To learn more, just tap here.


From the Editor-Best of Omaha 2019

November 12, 2018 by

Great stories are built from passion. I should know, I read a lot of great stories—nonfiction stories at the magazine, and fiction stores in the comfort of my home.

Best of Omaha is, in itself, a great story. The magazine published its first publicly-voted list in 1992, when my hair added at least three inches to my stature, and included such categories as “Best Place to Buy CDs and Tapes.” While the first-place winner, Homer’s, is still around, the category is not. And regardless of Pepsi’s efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s to become the cola of choice with the “Cola Wars” campaign, Pepsi and Coca-Cola tied for first place in the category “Best Soda.”

The readers responded positively to the contest, and it became an annual feature of the magazine, expanding with a variety of categories each year. In 1995, the winners for “Best Known Omahan” were Warren Buffett, Willie Theisen, and Mrs. B. It would be interesting to see if Warren Buffett tops that list today. Conor Oberst, who started Bright Eyes in 1995, might give him a run for his money.

As the years progressed, the contest grew, and the listing went from publication inside Omaha Magazine to being one of the magazine’s eight annual issues. Today’s contest includes many categories that nobody would have thought of in the early 1990s, such as “Best Yoga Studio.” I was introduced to yoga in the mid-1990s via videotape, and outside of my university town, this practice was…well…not practiced much.

In other instances, the categories remain the same, but the winners from the first year are long gone. Ross’ Steak House won Best Steakhouse in 1992. The family-owned restaurant closed in 1996. In fact, only one of this year’s winners in the “Steakhouse” category was operating in Omaha in 1992.

The 300 categories in the following pages represent hours of hard work and passion—starting with voters, who told us their choices throughout the months of July and August. It is the work and passion of the staff, who sold advertisements and listings, photographed the images, and designed the pages. And we hope reading it is an act of enjoyment for you.

See the full list of 2019 winners here: http://omahamagazine.com/articles/best-of-omaha-2019/

Ling’s Namesake in West Omaha

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kim Ling, proprietor of Ling’s Asian Cuisine, has a difficult time staying away from the restaurant business. 

After successfully running China Road in Bellevue for 27 years with her family, Kim decided the time had come to retire. After all, she wanted to enjoy her gardening, walks around the lake, and relaxing while watching movies at home. It sounded like the perfect retirement for Kim and her husband, Justin (who was content with spending his days golfing). 

The bliss of retirement lasted for nearly a year before Kim started to feel antsy. “I felt like I wanted something to do. My passion has always been the food business,” she says, adding that after successfully running both China Road in Bellevue and China Inn in Lincoln for so many years, she found herself missing the customers. As for Justin, he was willing to put on the chef apron again and set aside his golf clubs—for now. 

When the Lings noticed a Vietnamese restaurant in their neighborhood was up for sale (at 6909 S. 157th St.), they started seriously considering coming out of retirement. “We wanted something that was a good, small size,” Kim says. This place fit the bill. The interior is small yet welcoming—more like a dining room in a home than a bustling restaurant. “I do enjoy a smaller restaurant,” Kim explains. “We spend a lot of time here.”

Since moving to the U.S. from Taiwan, Justin and Kim Ling have managed several restaurants in eastern Nebraska.

When they decided to purchase the restaurant, they did it with one caveat: the previous owner had to walk them through the process of how things were done there. The Lings wanted a seamless transition for the existing customers, so while they were absolutely going to put their own spin on the dishes served, they knew that they weren’t going to completely overhaul the menu. 

The menu is unusual for an Asian restaurant in the sense that it isn’t jam-packed with items. “Some restaurants have over a hundred items on their menu, but we don’t want to do that,” Kim says. 

First-time customers should try the general’s chicken or the lo mein, she says. Return customers love the pad thai (a Thai noodle dish) and the classic Vietnamese selections—including vermicelli rice noodles and pho—legacies from the restaurant previously named “Vietnamese Cuisine” before its sale to the Lings. 

After reopening the location, the veteran restaurant owners added a Taiwanese beef noodle soup to the menu, offering a delicious taste of a famous Taiwanese culinary delight. Commenting on the menu, Kim says, “Nothing is too crazy spicy.”

Online ordering for takeout is popular at this restaurant, but those who choose to dine in enjoy the laid-back atmosphere while waiting for homemade dishes that Justin pulls together with fresh ingredients. “He likes to create, and he’s good at it,” Kim says. “He has a passion and always thinks about quality. He has a chef’s attitude and listens to what people say.” As a matter of fact, a running joke among regular customers is to ask Justin, “Hey, what’s different today?” He isn’t afraid to try new things and tweak his recipes a little to better suit his customers’ palates. 

Justin started cooking right out of school in Taiwan. He married Kim before she came to the United States in 1981, but he had to wait to join her as he finished up his mandatory two years of military service. They worked for other people for a few years until Kim’s sister, Judy Thomas (who she refers to as “The Leader”), declared the family ready to own their own restaurant. That’s when they all came together and started China Road in 1990. “It was our first time running a family business—there were five of us,” Kim says. 

Some of the family has since moved back to Taiwan, and though Kim used to visit her family in Taiwan annually, she doesn’t have the opportunity to visit as often anymore. “I do miss Taiwan,” she says of the island (which governs itself as a sovereign nation but is claimed as a territory of the People’s Republic of China). “It’s my home. But this is my home now, too. I raised two daughters here. Nebraska is perfect for me. The people are nice and there’s a slow pace.”

Her feelings are echoed in the dining area of the restaurant, where Asian décor mingles with “I love the USA” decals on the window. “I love my job and I like to deal with people. I want people to have a good time,” Kim says, adding that Ling’s Asian Cuisine is very much a family-friendly eatery. She loves when customers bring their kids along to enjoy a meal. Sometimes she’ll fashion little umbrellas for the kids to play with while they wait for their food. 

She intentionally wants families to feel welcome, not only because the restaurant is located within a neighborhood full of families, but also because she wants everyone who steps through the door to feel at ease and comfortable. “We have lots of regular customers; they’re more like family. I see them more than I see some of my family,” Kim says. 

The feeling seems to be mutual. Customers don’t balk at the 8 p.m. closing time. “They understand this takes a lot of energy,” says Kim, who doesn’t appear to be running out of energy anytime soon.  

Visit lingsasiancuisine.com for more information.

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

Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, a legacy menu item from the restaurant preceding Ling’s Asian Cuisine

Best of Omaha 2019

November 9, 2018 by
Illustration by Matt Wieczorek

Omaha Magazine is happy to announce the results of the 2019 Best of Omaha Contest. Click the link for each category to see the winners, or scroll through the entire list below. Categories are organized alphabetically under the following eight section headings: Dining, Family, Health & Beauty, Household, Nightlife, Retail, Services, and Transportation.


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Health & Beauty

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American Dining

Charleston’s Restaurant
Jams American Grill
402-399-8300 | 402-614-9333
Railcar Modern American Kitchen


Kona Grill
Pitch Pizzeria
Two locations, downtown and West Omaha
Bonefish Grill


Bruegger’s Bagels
Panera Bread
Bagel Bin


Rotella’s Italian Bakery
The Omaha Bakery
Le Petit Paris


Famous Dave’s
Tired Texan BBQ
Swine Dining BBQ

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Bowl of Soup

WheatFields Eatery & Bakery
Paradise Bakery & Cafe
402-934-5757 | 402-991-3000
Olive Garden


Le Peep
Four locations
First Watch
Five Omaha-area locations
11-Worth Cafe

Brew Pub

Upstream Brewing Company
The Benson Brewery
Nebraska Brewing Co.

Brick Oven Pizza

Pitch Pizzeria
Two locations, downtown and West Omaha
Dante Ristorante Pizzeria
Noli’s Pizzeria


China Buffet – Mongolian Grill
Valentino’s Pizza
Pizza Ranch

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Abelardo’s Mexican Food
Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar
6113 Maple St. in Benson
Fernando’s Cafe and Cantina


The Cake Gallery
Nothing Bundt Cakes
The Cake Specialist
402-733-CAKE (2253)


Chef in Omaha

Clayton Chapman, The Grey Plume
Jennifer Coco, j. coco
Ben Maides, Au Courant


Taqueria Los Compadres
El Bee’s

Chinese Dining

China Palace
Golden Palace
Golden Bowl

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Crane Coffee
Archetype Coffee


Jones Bros. Cupcakes
402-884-CAKE (2253)
Cupcake Island
Gigi’s Cupcakes


Jason’s Deli
Swartz’s Delicatessen & Bagels
Razzy’s Deli


WheatFields Eatery & Bakery
Farmhouse Cafe
Sweet Magnolias


Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
LaMar’s Donuts
Dunkin’ Donuts

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Family Restaurant

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen
Shirley’s Diner

Fast Good Food

Don & Millie’s

Fish Fry

Holy Name Fish Fry
Mary Our Queen Fish Fry
St. Patrick’s of Elkhorn Fish Fry

Food Truck

402 BBQ Food Truck
La Casa Pizzaria
Dos de Oros – Tie Third
Piccolo Pete’s – Tie Third

French Dining

Le Voltaire
Le Bouillon
La Buvette

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French Fries

Bronco’s Self-Services Drive-In
Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Fried Catfish

Catfish Lake
Surfside Club
Joe Tess Place

Fried Chicken

Jack and Mary’s
Time Out Foods
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Frozen Yogurt

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt
TCBY Frozen Yogurt
Red Mango

Gluten-Free Menu

Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar
Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
Modern Love

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Gourmet Hamburger

Block 16
Charred Burger + Bar
Omaha Tap House

Greek Dining

Greek Islands
Jim & Jennie’s Greek Village
Legacy Gyros


King Kong
Feta’s Gyros & Catering
John’s Grecian Delight


Stella’s Bar & Grill
106 Galvin Road, Bellevue
Smitty’s Garage Burgers and Beer
Dinker’s Bar

Hot Dog

B & B Classic Dogs
Chicago Dawg House
Fauxmaha Hot Dogs

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Hot Wings – Charbuffed

Oscar’s Pizza & Sports Grille
Tanner’s Bar & Grill
Addy’s Sports Bar & Grill

Hot Wings – Traditional

Buffalo Wild Wings
Ray’s Original Buffalo Wings

Ice Cream

Ted & Wally’s Ice Cream
Benson – Downtown
Coneflower Creamery
Cold Stone Creamery

Indian Dining

Jaipur Indian Restaurant and Brewing
Astoria Biryani House

Italian Dining

Lo Sole Mio Ristorante Italiano
3125 S. 72nd St.
Vincenzo’s Italian Ristorante

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Japanese Dining

Sakura Bana
Genji Japanese Steakhouse


Juice Stop
The Grove Juicery & Wellness Cafe
Evolve Paleo Chef

Korean Dining

Maru Sushi Korean Grill
Suji’s Korean Grill
Korean Grill

Locally Sourced Dining

The Grey Plume
Kitchen Table
Au Courant Regional Kitchen


The Market Basket

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Mexican Dining

La Mesa Mexican Restaurant
Rivera’s Mexican Food
Romeo’s Mexican Food & Pizza
Five Metro locations

Middle Eastern Dining

El Basha Mediterranean Grill
Mediterranean Bistro
Ahmad’s Persian Cuisine

New Restaurant 
in 2018

Monarch Prime & Bar
Stokin’ Goat
Best Bison

Outdoor Patio

Marks Bistro
Pitch Pizzeria
Two locations, downtown and West Omaha
1912 Benson


Pasta Amore e Fantasia
Spaghetti Works
Malara’s Italian

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Pettit’s Pastry
Gerda’s German Restaurant & Bakery
Le Quartier Bakery & Cafe


Mama’s Pizza
La Casa Pizzaria

Prime Rib

Jerico’s Restaurant
Farmer Brown’s Steak House
Johnny’s Cafe

Restaurant Beer Selection

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom
LOCAL Beer, Patio and Kitchen
Growler USA


Reuben Sandwich

Crescent Moon Ale House
Paddy McGown’s Pub and Grill
4503 Center St., Omaha, NE 68106
Goldberg’s Bar & Grill

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Romantic Restaurant

Brother Sebastian’s Steak House
 & Winery
Flatiron Cafe


Paradise Bakery & Cafe
402-934-5757 | 402-991-3000
M’s Pub


Jacobo’s Authentic Mexican Grocery, Bakery and Tortilleria
Cilantro’s Mexican Bar & Grill


Jimmy John’s
Firehouse Subs


Shuck’s Fish House and Oyster Bar
Bonefish Grill
Plank Seafood Provisions

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Smoothie King
Juice Stop
Tropical Smoothie


The Drover
Mahogany Prime Steakhouse
801 Chophouse

Sunday Brunch

Granite City Food & Brewery
Early Bird
Mantra Bar & Grille


Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Umami Asian Cuisine


Voodoo Taco
Two Omaha locations
Rusty Taco
Maria’s Mexican Restaurant


Salween Thai
Mai Thai
Taste of Thailand

Wait Staff & Service

Charleston’s Restaurant
Mahogany Prime Steakhouse
M’s Pub

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Bowling Alley

The Mark
Maplewood Lanes
Western Bowl

Child Day Care

The Hills Montessori
Hamilton Heights Child Development Center
Academic Adventures Child Development Center

Child Party Provider

Amazing Pizza Machine
Pump It Up

Children’s Attraction

Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Omaha Children’s Museum
Fontenelle Forest Nature Center

City Park

Elmwood Park
Memorial Park
Zorinsky Lake Park

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Dance Studio

Nebraska Dance
Kitty Lee Dance
Mary Lorraine’s Dance Center

Family Behavior Therapy

Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic
Children’s Behavioral Health
Radical Minds

Family Dentist Office

The Dentists
Today’s Dental
Premier Dental


Family Entertainment

Amazing Pizza Machine
Dave & Buster’s

Family Photographer

Carly Urbach Photography
Penny Layne, 
Penny Layne Photography
Tree Jacobson, Happy Little Tree

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Taste of Omaha
St. Stanislaus Polish Festival
Maha Music Festival


Premier Gymnastics
Metro Stars Gymnastics
Nebraska Gold Gymnastics

Haunted House

Scary Acres
Mystery Manor
The Shadows Edge

Laser Tag

Family Fun Center XL
Papio Fun Park

Martial Arts

Championship Martial Arts
Omaha Blue Waves Martial Arts
Siso Martial Arts

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Movie Theater

Aksarben Cinema
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Omaha
Marcus Majestic Cinema of Omaha

Music Lessons

SNJ Studio of Music
Omaha Conservatory of Music
Adkins: Guitar and Music Lessons

Pediatric Dentist Office

Smile Station Pediatric Dentistry
Pedodontics PC
Children’s Dental Specialists


Dr. Lisa Whitcomb, Heartland Family First Medical Clinic
Dr. Kelli Shidler, Boys Town
Dr. Michael Moore, 
Children’s Physicians


Montessori Elementary School 
of Omaha
Duchesne Preschool of the 
Sacred Heart
Gingerbread House Preschool

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Professional Omaha Sports Team

Omaha Storm Chasers
Omaha Lancers
Omaha Beef Football

Public Golf Course

Indian Creek
Elmwood Park Golf Course
Johnny Goodman Golf Course

Youth Athletic Organization

YMCA of Greater Omaha
Millard United Sports
Elkhorn Athletic Association

Youth Cheerleading Club

Elite Cheer
Millard United Sports
Airborne Academy

Youth Summer Camp

YMCA of Greater Omaha
Hummel Day Camp
Camp Legacy

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Youth Swim Lessons

Swimtastic Swim School
DiVentures Scuba & Swim Center
Little Waves Family Swim School



Youth Volleyball Sports Club

The Volleyball Academy
Premier Volleyball
Nebraska Elite Volleyball

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Health & Beauty

Acupuncture – Chiropractor

Balanced Body Acupuncture 
& Chiropractic
Essentials Family Chiropractic 
and Wellness
Becker Chiropractic & Acupuncture


Acupuncture – Licensed

Thirteen Moons, Donna Huber
Natural Health Center, Janis Regier
River Point Acupuncture


Ebrahim Shakir, Midwest Allergy 
and Asthma
Jeffrey Nelson, Midwest Allergy 
and Asthma
James Tracy, Allergy, Asthma 
and Immunonology Associates, P.C.

Barre Fitness Facility

The Barre Code
Well Mama
Pure Barre Omaha-Loveland

Beauty Supply Store

LovelySkin Retail Store
Under the direction of Joel Schlessinger, M.D.
Sally Beauty Supply
Beauty Brands

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Breast Augmentation

Aesthetic Surgical Images
Village Pointe Aesthetic Surgery & Dreams Medspa
Westfield Plastic Surgery Center

Charity Walk /
Fun Run

The Color Run
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Race for the Cure


Koca Chiropractic
Gary Elsasser, Elsasser Chiropractic
Gabriel Long, Awaken Chiropractic

Cosmetic Dentist

Steven D. Wegner, DDS
Dr. Daniel Beninato, Premier Dental
Dr. Marty J. Matz, The Tooth Doc

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Cosmetic Surgeon

Joel Schlessinger, M.D., 
Skin Specialists, P.C.
2802 Oakview Drive, Omaha, NE 68144
Village Pointe Aesthetic Surgery & Dreams Medspa
Dr. Nagi T. Ayoub, 
Westfield Plastic Surgery Center

Counseling Services

Counseling Connections & Associates
Associated Counseling Professionals
Omaha Integrative Care

Crossfit Box

CrossFit Kinesis
CrossFit Elkhorn
CrossFit Omaha

Day Spa

Gloss Salon & Day Spa
LovelySkin Spa
Under the direction of Joel Schlessinger, M.D.
Creative Hair Design Salon and Spa


Joel Schlessinger, M.D., 
Skin Specialists, P.C.
2802 Oakview Drive, Omaha, NE 68144
Dermatology Specialists of Omaha
Midwest Dermatology Clinic, P.C.

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Montana Haggerty, 
Allure Health & Med Spa
Meredith Bryant, 
Allure Health & Med Spa
Amy Carey Bishop, Spa Ritual Omaha

Family Doctor

Amanda Kester, 
Essential Family Medicine
Mark Goodman, M.D., CHI
Dr. Edward Mantler, Papillion 
Family Medicine

Female Hormone Replacement Clinic

Allure Health & Med Spa
ReVital Women’s Hormone Clinic
Optima Medical Hormone Replacement & Aesthetic Center

Fitness Club

Blue Moon Fitness
Life Time Fitness
Prairie Life Fitness

Fitness Equipment Store

Body Basics Fitness Equipment
Priority 1 Fitness
Push Pedal Pull

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Float Tank

True REST Float Spa
Blue Oceans Float
Omaha Float Spa

Hair Colorist

Rebecca Forsyth, 
BUNGALOW/8 Hairdressing
Christi Clark
Ricky Newton at Salon Inspired


Hair Salon

Creative Hair Design Salon and Spa
BUNGALOW/8 Hairdressing
Garbo’s Salon and Spa

Hearing Aids Center

Beltone Audiology & Hearing Center
Ear Specialists of Omaha
Professional Audiology and 
Hearing Center

Indoor Cycling Class

Elevate Cycling & Fitness Studio
Torva Fit Club
Sweat Cycle Strength

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Kick Boxing Class

Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping
Impact Kickboxing and Fitness Center
9Round 30 Min Kickbox Fitness

Laser Hair Removal

Milan Laser Aesthetics
Bare Body Shop
Ideal Image

Lasik Eye Surgery

Kugler Vision
Omaha Eye and Laser Institute
LasikPlus Vision Center

Male Hormone Replacement Clinic

Limitless Male Medical Clinic
NuMale Medical Center

Manicure & Pedicure

American Nails & Spa
3618 N. 165th St.
Martini Nails & Spa
Legacy Nails & Spa

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Massage Therapy

Massage Envy
Palmer Massage Therapy
Millard Oaks Chiropractic 
& Massage

Med Spa

Allure Health & Med Spa
LovelySkin Spa
Under the direction of Joel Schlessinger, M.D.
Omaha Med Spa
Concierge Aesthetics


Memory Care Facility

Ridgewood Active 
Retirement Community
Parsons House on Eagle Run
CountryHouse Residence of Omaha
5030 S. 155th St., Omaha, NE 68137

Men’s Haircut

Sport Clips
The Surly Chap Barbers
Scissors & Scotch:
A Premium Barbershop

Men’s Shave

Dennison Dahlman – 
Barbershop & Lounge
Dundee Barber
The Beard and Mane

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Nutrition & Vitamin Store

Complete Nutrition
No Name Nutrition Markets


Omaha Primary EyeCare
Millard Family Eyecare
402-896-3300 | 402-330-3063
Legacy Eyecare
16949 Lakeside Hills Plaza, Ste. 101

Oral Surgeon

Oral Surgery Associates
Village Pointe Oral Surgery, P.C.
Midwest Oral Surgery & 
Dental Implants


Dr. Kort Igel, Igel Orthodontics
Dr. Thomas J. Weber, 
Weber Orthodontics
Dr. Paul McAllister, 
McAllister Orthodontics


Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Michael C. Thompson, Ortho NE
Dr. Mark Goebel, Ortho NE
Dr. Scott T. McMullen, 
GIKK Orthopedic Specialists

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Pain Management

Midwest Pain Clinics
Omaha Physical 
Therapy Institute, PC
West Omaha Cryotherapy

Personal Training Facility

Todd Smith Fitness
iThinkFit Gym
Orangetheory Fitness

Physical Therapy Company

Makovicka Physical Therapy
Excel Physical Therapy
FYZICAL Therapy and 
Balance Centers

Physical Therapy Equipment

Kohll’s Pharmacy & Homecare
Kubat Pharmacy
Relax The Back Store

Pilates Studio

Pilates Center of Omaha
Core10 Pilates
Legacy Pilates, Yoga & More

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Private Practice Medical Clinic

THINK Whole Person Healthcare
Essential Family Medicine of Omaha
Midwest Regional Health Services

Rehabilitation Facility

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
Brookestone Meadows

Tanning Salon

Palm Beach Tan
Sun Tan City
Paradise Bay Tanning

Tattoo Parlor

Big Brain
Downtown & West O locations
Eye Candy Tattoo
Liquid Courage

Tummy Tuck

Aesthetic Surgical Images
Westfield Plastic Surgery Center
Village Pointe Aesthetic Surgery 
& Dreams Medspa

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Waxing/Hair Removal

Authentic Brazilian Wax by Vanella
Wild Prairie Spa
Wax On

Weight Loss Center

Weight Watchers
Profile By Sanford
Four Omaha locations

Yoga Studio

Lotus House of Yoga
All levels of yoga for your high vibe life!
Karma Yoga Omaha
Pranam Yoga Shala

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Harrison Hills by Broadmoor
The Biltmore
Broadmoor Hills

Appliance Repair

Andy’s Appliance Repair
Nebraska Home Appliance

Basement Repair & Waterproofing

Jerry’s Basement Waterproofing
Midwest Mudjacking

Building Supply Store

Builders Supply Co.
Millard Lumber

Carpet Cleaning

ZEROREZ of Nebraska
Stanley Steemer
Metro Chem-Dry

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Concrete Installer

Moore’s Concrete Construction, Inc.
Oxford Construction Co.
Schroder Concrete, Inc.


McKean’s Floor to Ceiling
Martin’s Counter Tops

Custom Cabinetry

Titan Custom Cabinets, Inc.
Flair Custom Cabinets & Remodeling

Custom Closets

Marco Closets & Storage
The Container Store

Custom Home Builder

Curt Hofer & Associates
Pohlad Custom Homes
Mercury Builders

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Decorative Concrete

Oxford Construction Co.
Garage Revolution
Lusterstone Pebble Paving

Decorative Painting

Fe Fi Faux Studios, Inc.
Joe Eby Faux and Decorative Painting

Electrical Services

Brase Electrical
Hiller Electric Company
Frederick Electric Inc.

Fence & Railings

S&W Fence
American Fence Company
JK Fencing LLC


Claxton Fireplace Center
Fireplace Stone & Patio
Fireplace by Design

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Floor Coverings

Nebraska Furniture Mart
McKean’s Floor to Ceiling

Garage Doors

Norm’s Door Service
Omaha Door & Window
Overhead Door Company of Omaha

Garage Flooring

Garage Revolution
In The Garage
Garage Floor Coating of Nebraska

Garden Nursery Store

Lanoha Nurseries
192nd & W. Center Rd.
Canoyer Garden Center

Grout & Tile Repair

The Grout Doctor
The Grout Medic

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Handyman Services

Handyman Joes
Houston Home Services

Heating & Air Service

Burton A/C * Heating * 
Plumbing * and More
Thermal Services
SOS Heating and Cooling

Home Accessories

Nebraska Furniture Mart
House of J
12965 W. Center Road
Robin’s Nest
101 W. Main St., Springfield

Home Audio & Video

Custom Electronics
AV Squared, LLC
Echo Systems

Home Builder

Charleston Homes
The Home Company
Legacy Homes

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Home Cleaning Service

Molly Maid
Pink Shoe Cleaning Crew
Maids & More

Home Disaster Restoration

Paul Davis Restoration
BELFOR Property 
Restoration of Omaha
Carlson Restoration

Home Glass & Mirrors

Elite Glass Services
Quality Glass & Mirror
Papillion Glass & Door Co.

Home Remodeling

T Hurt Construction
Cornerstone Remodeling
Total Construction Services

Home Security

Security Equipment, Inc. (SEi)
American Electronics, an Atronic Alarms Company
Sellhorst Security & Sound

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Indoor Window Coverings

Custom Blinds & Design
Ambiance Window Coverings
All About Blinds

Interior Design Firm

Lee Douglas Interiors, Inc.
The Interior Design Firm
Fluff Interior Design

Interior Designer

Marilyn Schooley Hansen, 
FASID, The Designers
Lester Katz, LK Design
Robin Lindley, 
The Interior Design Firm

Kitchen & Bath Plumbing Fixtures

Kitchens & Baths by Briggs
Winnelson Co.

Kitchen & Bath Remodeling

Re-Bath of The Heartland
4123 S. 84th St.
Kitchens by Design
United Services Design + Build

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Landscape Curbing

Curb Curb
Curb Appeal Landscape 
Curbing of Omaha

Landscape Designer

Foutch Landscaping Enterprises
Robert’s Nursery Landscapes & Lawns
Greenlife Gardens

Landscape Lighting

McKay Landscape Lighting
Midwest Lightscaping
Accent Landscape Lighting, Inc.

Landscape Rock 
& Granite

Sun Valley Landscaping
The Rock Place
Above & Beyond 
Complete Grounds Maintenance


Landscaping Service

Carson Enterprises
Patera Landscaping
Sun Valley Landscaping

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Lawn Care

Heartland Lawns Omaha
Forest Green Lawn & Landscaping
Elkhorn Lawn Care, LLC

Lawn Irrigation & Sprinklers

Nature’s Helper
Millard Sprinkler
Quality Irrigation

Mortgage Provider

Regent Financial Group
Eagle Mortgage Inc.
Benchmark Mortgage

Moving Company

Two Men & a Truck
Black Belt Movers
Jim’s Moving & Delivery Co., Inc.


Mud Jacking

Thrasher, Inc.
Mixan Mudjacking
The Driveway Company

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Mulch Provider

Maple 85 Premium Landscape 
Mulch Center
Patera Landscaping
Yard Market Nursery

Painting Services

Gerst Painting
CertaPro Painters of Omaha
Brush & Roll Painting

Pest Control Service

Lien Termite & Pest Control
ABC Termite & Pest Control

Plumbing Services

Burton A/C * Heating * 
Plumbing * and More
Eyman Plumbing Heating & Air
Big Birge Plumbing

Pools & Spas

Classic Pool & Spa
Premier Pools and Spas
Continental Pool & Spa

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Residential Roofing

Moose Roofing
Pyramid Roofing
White Castle Roofing

Residential Siding

McKinnis Roofing
Husker Hammer
Tevelde and Co.

Residential Trash Service

Abe’s Trash Service
Papillion Sanitation
Premier Waste Solutions

Retaining Walls

Patera Landscaping
Jensen Retaining Walls
Hudson Hardscapes

Stone & Brick Provider

Fireplace Stone & Patio
Watkins Concrete Block
Baltazar’s Stone, INC.

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Tile Installer

SkilledSet Tile & Stone
Floors By Dave
Legendary Tile

Tile Store

Sunderland Brothers Company
Ceramic Tileworks Center
Premier Tile Corporation

Tree Service

Terry Hughes Tree Service
Arbor Aesthetics Tree Service
Mutchie Tree Service

Water Treatment Systems

Futuramic’s Clean Water Center
Kangen Water of Omaha
United Distributors Inc.

Windows and Doors

Pella Windows and Doors 
of Omaha & Lincoln
Omaha Door & Window
Renewal by Andersen

Wood Floor Company

Heartland Wood Floors
Timberland Hardwood Floors
Tom Manley Floors, Inc.

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Bar Food

Blatt Beer & Table
Legends Patio Grill & Bar
Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub & Grill

Board Game Cafe

Spielbound Board Game Cafe
Sparta Games
Sozo Coffeehouse

Cigar Bar

Havana Garage
Copacabana Cocktails & Cigars
Jake’s Cigars & Spirits

Cocktail Lounge

LIV Lounge
Holiday Lounge
Wicked Rabbit

Comedy Club

Funny Bone Comedy Club
The Backline Comedy Theatre
Lookout Lounge

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Craft Cocktails

The Berry & Rye
Wicked Rabbit
Trio Cocktails & Company


Cut Spike Distillery
Patriarch Distillers
Brickway Brewery

Escape Room

House of Conundrum Escape Room
The Escape Omaha
Entrap Games: 
Omaha Escape Room Game

Happy Hour

Blue Sushi Sake Grill

Irish Bar

Brazen Head Irish Pub
319 N. 78th St.
Two Fine Irishmen
The Dubliner Pub

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Late-Night Dining

Nite Owl
Eat The Worm
Abelarado’s Mexican Food

Live Music Venue

Holland Performing Arts Center
The Waiting Room

Local Band

Lemon Fresh Day
The Confidentials


Roja Mexican Grill
La Mesa Mexican Restaurant
Trini’s Mexican Restaurant


Charlie’s On The Lake
Sullivan’s Steakhouse
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

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Micro Brewery

Upstream Brewing Company
Infusion Brewing Company
Kros Strain Brewing Company

Neighborhood Bar

The Observatory Bar & Grill
The Homy Inn
The Village Bar

New Bar in 2018

Red Lion Lounge
Bärchen Beer Garden

Reverse Happy Hour

Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Stokes Restaurant

Sports Bar

DJ’s Dugout
Six locations
Tanner’s Bar & Grill
The Good Life

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Whisky Bar

Proof Whiskey & Craft Cocktail Bar
Dundee Dell
Liberty Tavern

Wine Bar

Corkscrew Wine & Cheese
Vino Mas
Nosh Wine Lounge

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Antique Shop

Brass Armadillo
The Imaginarium
Found Vintage Market

Arts & Crafts 

Blick Art Materials
7829 Dodge St., 402-397-6077
It’s Yours Pottery

Beer & Spirits Store

Spirit World
Big Dog’s Beverage


The Bookworm
Half Price Books
Parables Christian Bookstore

Bridal Shop

David’s Bridal
Bridal Traditions
Rhylan Lang Bridal

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Provisions by The Grey Plume
Corkscrew Wine & Cheese
Maresco’s Italian Market
2821 S. 108th St., 402-991-9987


Cheese Shop

Northwoods Cheese Haus
Whole Foods Market
Trader Joes’

Cigar/Tobacco Shop

SG Roi Tobacconist
Ted’s Tobacco
The Omaha Cigar Company

Clothing Consignment Store

Scout: Dry Goods & Trade
5018 Underwood Ave.
Absolutely Her Women’s Consignment
Esther’s Consignment

Coffee Roaster

A Hill of Beans Coffee Roasters
Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee
Rally Coffee Co.

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Comic Book Store

Legend Comics & Coffee
Dragon’s Lair Comics
Krypton Comics

Convenience Store

Casey’s General Stores
Bucky’s Convenience Stores
Kwik Shop

Estate Jewelry

Sol’s Jewelry & Loan
Bergman Jewelers
Pretty In Patina


Taylor’s Flower Shop & 
Greenhouse, Inc.
All Seasons Floral & Gifts
EverBloom Floral and Gift

Furniture Store

Nebraska Furniture Mart
Allens Home
Ethan Allen

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Gift Shop

House of J
12965 W. Center Road
Spruce Interiors & Gifts
Stella’s Belle

Golf Store

Austad’s Golf
Golf Galaxy
Golf USA

Grocery Store

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Fareway Meat & Grocery

Hardware Store

Ace Hardware
Johnson Hardware
Two locations
Ideal Hardware & Paint Center

Husker Apparel Store

Husker Hounds
Lawlor’s Custom Sportswear

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Jewelry Store

Borsheims Fine Jewelry
14 Karat Jewelry Store
Gunderson’s Jewelers

Local Pet Store

Nature Dog
The Green Spot
Long Dog Fat Cat

Meat Department

Fareway Meat Market
Just Good Meat
Stoyisch House of Sausage

Men’s Apparel

Lindley Clothing Co.
The Simple Man

Natural/Organic Grocery Store

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Whole Foods Market
Natural Grocers

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Outdoor Clothing 
& Gear Store

Sierra Trading Post

Party Supply Store

Hobby Lobby

Pawn Shop

Sol’s Jewelry & Loan
Four Aces Pawn Shop
Mid-City Jewelry & Loan

Pet Supply Store

Pets R Us


CVS Pharmacy
Kohll’s Pharmacy & Homecare

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Vic’s Corn Popper
Just Pop’d
Jock & Jill’s Popcorn

Retail Art Gallery

Lewis Art Gallery
Blue Pomegranate Gallery
Main Street Studios

Shoe Store

Haney Shoes
6060 Maple St.
The Mix Shoes and Accessories
Buck’s Shoes

Shopping Center

Village Pointe Shopping Center
Westroads Mall
Shadow Lake Towne Center

Sporting Goods Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Sweet Shop

Hollywood Candy
The Cordial Cherry
Chocolaterie Stam

Thrift Store

Thrift World
Four stores in the Omaha area
New Life Thrift

Vape Store

Alohma Vape Superstores
Generation V E-Cigarettes & Vape Bar
Caterpillar Vapes


Soaring Wings | Vineyard & Brewing
Cellar 426
James Arthur Vineyards

Wine Store

Vino Mas

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Women’s Boutique

Four Sisters Boutique
Kajoma’s Fashion Boutique
104 E. First, Papillion

Yarn / Quilting Shop

Personal Threads Boutique
Country Sampler
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft

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Accounting Services

Hancock & Dana PC

 Living Facility

Elk Ridge Village
Lakeside Village by Immanuel
Westgate Assisted Living


First National Bank, Member FDIC
Pinnacle Bank
14 Omaha Metro Locations
American National Bank


Catering Creations
Attitude on Food
Eddie’s Catering

Computer Repair

Elkhorn Computer Sales & Service
Ken’s PC Repair

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Credit Union

Centris Federal Credit Union
Cobalt Credit Union
Veridian Credit Union

Custom Made Furniture

Zongkers Custom Woods
Long Grain Furniture

Custom Picture Framing

Lewis Art Gallery
Malibu Gallery

Dating Service

Omaha Love

Divorce Mediation

Nebraska Legal Group
Wesley Dodge
Koenig | Dunne

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DJ Service

ShowTime Music
Chaos Productions
JIIK DJ Services

Dog Day Care

The Paw Spa Pet Resort
Dogtopia of Omaha
Bark Avenue Omaha


Dog Training

Dharma Dog Training
Dog Gone Problems
Nebraska Dog Trainers


Dry Cleaners

Max I. Walker
22 locations
Fashion Cleaners
Six locations
NuTrend Dry Cleaners

Duct Cleaning

Affordable Air Duct Cleaning
MAXIM Cleaning & Restoration, Inc.

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Employer – Less Than 100 Employees

OBI Creative
Capstone Consulting, Inc.
88 Tactical

Employer – More Than 100 Employees

University of Nebraska 
Medical Center
Prime Time Healthcare

Estate Planning

Andrew Sigerson, 
Legacy Design Strategies
James Blazek, 
Blazek and Gregg, P.C., L.L.O.
Jill Mason, 
Kinney Mason, P.C., L.L.O.

Event Planner

A View Premier Event Venues

Planning Firm

Northwestern Mutual
Edward Jones
Thrivent Financial

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Funeral Home

Mortuaries & Crematory
John A. Gentleman Mortuaries
Roeder Mortuary

Furniture Repurposing and Restoration

Found Vintage Market
Don’s Refinishing Service
Southern Style Restorations/Furniture Magic


Hilton Omaha
Embassy Suites La Vista
Magnolia Hotel Omaha

Non-Medical Care

Home Instead Senior Care
Right at Home
A Place at Home

In-Home Nursing Service

Visiting Nurse Association (VNA)
Home Nursing With Heart
Physicians Choice Home Health Care

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Independent Living

Ridgewood Retirement Community
Elk Ridge Village
Walnut Grove Retirement Community

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Internet Provider

Cox Communications
Six locations
CenturyLink Internet

Law Firm

Baird Holm LLP
Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O.
Kutak Rock LLP

Insurance Company

Physicians Mutual Insurance
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska

Local Website

Under the direction of Joel Schlessinger, M.D.

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Newborn Photography

Penny Layne, 
Penny Layne Photography
Teresa Simpson Photography
Erin Brodhead Photography

Non-profit Event

Omaha Gives Powered by the Omaha Community Foundation
Art & Soup, 
Visiting Nurse Association
JDRF One Walk Mile of Hope

Nursing Home Facility

The Lighthouse by Immanuel
Brookestone Meadows
Papillion Manor Nursing Home

Personal Injury Lawyer

Hauptman O’Brien 
Wolf & Lathrop, P.C.
Gross & Welch P.C., L.L.O.
Sibbernsen, Strigenz & Sibbernsen

Pet Boarding

The Paw Spa Pet Resort
Cottonwood Pet Resort
Clearview Pet Care Centre

Pet Grooming Salon

Park Your Pawz
All About Dogs Grooming Salon
Dogtopia of Omaha

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Pet Photography

Dogtography by Kala Howard
Janine Cooper, JM Studios
Maggie Mellema, C41 Photography

Private School – Elementary School

Brownell Talbot
Saint Wenceslaus
St. Patrick’s of Elkhorn

Private School – 
High School

Marian High School
7400 Military Ave.
Creighton Preparatory School
Duchesne Academy of the 
Sacred Heart

Realtor Agent

Blythe Real Estate Team
Lisa & Dennis Ritter, RE/Max Results
Karen Jennings, CBS Home

Reception Venue

Nuri Event Studio
A View Premier Event Venues
Thompson Alumni Center @ UNO

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Retirement Community

Lakeside Village by Immanuel
Ridgewood Active Retirement Community
New Cassel

Shooting Range

88 Tactical
Omaha Gun Club
2828 S. 82nd Ave.
The Marksman Indoor Range

Small Engine Repair

Ty’s Outdoor Power & Service
Gretna Small Engine
J & J Small Engine Services

Smartphone Repair

Fix It Fast

Storage Units

Dino’s Storage
Armor Storage
Affordable Family Storage

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Tailor Shop

Sy’s Tailor Shop
Jack’s Tailors
G.I. Cleaners & Tailors

Tuxedo Store

Men’s Wearhouse
Tip Top Tux
Gentleman’s Choice Formal Wear


University of Nebraska Omaha
Creighton University
Metropolitan Community College

Veterinary Clinic

The Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital
Best Care Pet Hospital
American Animal Hospital

Wedding Photographer

Chelsea Jo Photography
JM Studios
Stephanie Reeves Photography

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Auto Accessory Store

O’Reilly Auto Parts
Auto Zone
NAPA Auto Parts

Auto Body Repair

Dingman’s Collision Center
Four locations
Dave’s Auto Body Co.
Four locations

Auto Detailing

Dolphins Car Wash + Detail Center
Owner’s Pride
Cornhusker Auto Wash

Auto Financing

Veridian Credit Union
Centris Federal Credit Union
Cobalt Federal Credit Union

Auto Glass

Omaha Glass Pro
Safelite AutoGlass
Metro Glass

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Bike Shop

The Bike Rack
Trek Bikes
Bike Masters Cycle

Boat Dealer

Omaha Marine Center
Valley Marine
SeaLand Marine

Brake Service

Jensen Tire & Auto
Omaha Car Care
Brakes Plus

Car Tire Service

Jensen Tire & Auto
Midwest Tire Co., Inc.
Firestone Complete Auto Care

Express Car Wash

Russell Speeder’s Car Wash
Rocket Carwash

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Full-Service Car Wash

Dolphins Car Wash + Detail Center
Mojo’s Car Wash & Detail Center
VIP Express Car Wash
11910 M St.

General Auto Repair

Jensen Tire & Auto
Haver’s Auto Repair
Exclusive Repair


Luxury Car Dealer

Lexus of Omaha
Mercedes-Benz of Omaha
Audi Omaha

Muffler & Exhaust Service

House of Mufflers & 
Brakes Total Car Care
Three locations
Omaha Car Care
Mad Hatter Muffler & Brakes

New Car Dealer

Baxter Auto | Midwest Car 
Dealer Group
Woodhouse Auto Family
H&H Premier Automotive

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Oil Change

Jensen Tire & Auto
Jiffy Lube
Valvoline Instant Oil Change

RV Dealer

Apache Camper Center
A.C. Nelsen RV World
Leach Camper Sales

Transmission Repair

Certified Transmission
Omaha Transmission
AAMCO Transmissions & 
Total Car Care

Travel Agency

Vacation Superstore
Travel and Transport
Enchanted Honeymoons Travel

Used Car Dealer

Baxter Auto | Midwest Car 
Dealer Group
Woodhouse Auto Family
Huber Automotive

Used Luxury Car Dealer

Lexus of Omaha
Baxter Auto | Midwest Car 
Dealer Group
Mercedes-Benz of Omaha

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The Best of Omaha book is an annual publication of Omaha Magazine. It is available for purchase wherever Omaha Magazine is sold (http://omahamagazine.com/locations/). Subscribers to Omaha Magazine received the 2019 edition with the November/December 2018 issue of the magazine. Subscribe to Omaha Magazine at http://omahamagazine.com/subscribe. Voting is open to the general public online. Voting for the next round of Best of Omaha will take place in 2019 at http://bestofomaha.com

After Hours with the Best of Omaha

November 2, 2018 by
Illustration by Matt Wieczorek

Omaha Design Center is home to the nation’s fifth-largest fashion week. The Omaha Press Club roasted and toasted Greg and Doug McDermott there. Lili Cheng, Microsoft’s AI Developer, spoke there in August as part of Big Omaha.

Now, Omaha Magazine is joining forces with Omaha Design Center to bring you the Best of Omaha Soirée.

We previously held a Best of Omaha Festival, a casual event in which the public could learn more about the Best of Omaha winners, businesses they voted on during our summer voting period.

This event will celebrate the best of the best in the elegant atmosphere of Omaha Design Center.

“This will be a night to remember,” says publisher Todd Lemke. “It will be more targeted towards business managers and owners to celebrate winning the Best of Omaha.”

Business professionals will be interested in joining the fun, as one of the purposes behind this event is to find new contacts to add to their coteries. The dress code is business chic—wear a suit with a silk tie or scarf, or wear a tuxedo or little black dress. It will be a night to impress, and we know it will be a night that makes an impression on you.

“We are going to set the tone by having glamorous, back-lit scenery,” says Lemke. “We will have representatives of the Best of Omaha dining winners walking around with sample-sized bites and winners’ booths intermingled with the sponsors.”

That vendor you work with and know simply by text message or email will finally have a face. 

Once checked in, visitors can enter the main venue—and prepare to be wowed. Omaha Design Center is a top-notch space, with white couches, dazzling chandeliers, and cocktail tables for those wishing to set down a drink in order to shake hands. The center of the space includes an entertainment area, and people will be able to witness extreme performances throughout the evening, all situated on a circular platform so that you can walk around and meet new customers or colleagues while taking in the show.

Best of all, this is the reveal to our Best of Omaha winners for 2019. This year includes fun new categories such as best board game cafe, best escape room, and best chimichanga. A copy of the Best of Omaha book is included in the ticket price. Those who don’t want to crack the spine on their copy that night can view the winners as their names scroll across audio-visual displays.

The winners from the 700 categories represented in the Best of Omaha represent less than 3 percent of Omaha businesses, so you can be assured everything about the evening will spotlight the best of the best. The dining section alone has more than 60 categories, so you could munch on anything from the city’s best appetizers to bites of the city’s best Italian food, sushi, and more.

And you can sip on a glass of wine or beer while meeting new friends. Each attendee will receive tokens for two free drinks, and there is a cash bar available for those who want more than two drinks. 

We also have 250 VIP tickets available. All VIPs receive entry one hour early, which includes unlimited drinks during that time. They also receive valet service and premium appetizers.

Beyond the Best of Omaha 2019 winners, attendees at the event include the 2018 Best of B2B winners, the 2018 Best Doctors, Lawyers, and Dentists recipients, and the 2018 Faces of Omaha. This will be a who’s who of Omaha that you will not want to miss.

“Omaha is known as a ‘big small town,’ where relationships are important,” Lemke says. “We can’t think of a better way to honor that ‘big small town’ feeling than by putting on an event like this.”

See the video at  youtube.com/watch?v=JOxl1938u18 then visit localstubs.com to purchase tickets.

Let Halloween Carry On

November 1, 2018 by

Subscribe to this free weekly newsletter here.

Thursday, Nov. 1: Don’t miss the ninth annual celebration of straight-out-of-Nebraska talent at the Premiere: 2018 Film Streams Local Filmmakers Showcase at Film Streams’ Dundee Theater. With 12 different (mostly) short films to watch, chances are you will find at least one that intrigues you. Learn about a piece of dark, Irish folklore from an animation short or an outstanding young pianist from Russia in a brief biographical film. You can also catch a video from the local music virtuosos behind Closeness. With topics that run the gamut, be prepared to laugh, cry, and think. Click here for a preview.

Friday, Nov. 2: Coming to Omaha from Portland, Oregon, and just over the Colorado border (technically, Boulder), Gregory Alan Isakov and Haley Heynderickx are bringing their folksy, roots-based music to Sokol. If there’s a theme to this show, it’s definitely “earthy.” From Isakov’s farming connection to the land, ever-present in his songs, to Heynderickx’s new album titled I Need to Start a Garden, the desire to feel connected is evident. So get out and connect. Get your tickets here now.

Saturday, Nov. 3: You know you haven’t had enough of the costumes yet, so head to Omaha Masquerade Ball 2018 at Nuri Event Studio. Brought to you by the Omaha Diversity Experience, this magical masquerade will feature pop, Afrobeat, and hip hop music from DJ AK. VIP and bottle service packages are available, but you’d better dress the part. This is your chance to pretend, and who doesn’t love that? Get your tickets right here.

Saturday, Nov. 3: Still in the mood for some costume fun, but don’t want to go through the hassle of having to dress up yourself? Head to Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque at Slowdown. Watch the women-of-the-weird perform choreographed dances that pay tribute to a wide range of pop-culture classics, from Star Wars to Sailor Moon. Pit-side seats are already sold out, so you’d better get your tickets here asap.

Sunday, Nov. 4: It’s the time of year for the well-known, yet mystifying Midwest combination of chili and cinnamon rolls. Not for you? The Chili Crawl & Cookoff in Midtown Crossing at Turner Park is the perfect opportunity to find the best chili for whatever you like to pair with it—even drinks. With over eight restaurants participating, there will be plenty to choose from. Be sure to try them all, so you can vote for the best! Get all the details here.

Lincoln Fairview Historic District

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From the bluffs, an expansive view overlooks the Missouri River Valley and a landscape full of promise.

It’s the same vantage (minus Omaha’s modern skyline) that Abraham Lincoln encountered in August 1859 as he dreamed of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Later, in 1863, as president of the United States, he selected the area as the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1911, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected the Lincoln Monument, a focal point in Council Bluff’s Historic Lincoln Fairview neighborhood

“This neighborhood has a lot of charm and a lot of character,” says Lincoln Fairview Neighborhood Association treasurer Ken Freudenberg, a longtime resident who works in risk management. “We have three major historical monuments in our neighborhood, so we want to be good caretakers.” 

The Lincoln Fairview Neighborhood Association has around 30 members, meets on a monthly basis, and has won awards for their efforts and dedication to preserve their area’s historical charm. “We try to get people to do more things and maintain their lawns and their homes so that it is a nice area for people to ride through and tour,” he says. “We get a lot of people that come through here looking at the homes.” 

Past association president Susan Seamands says the group purchased banners and placed benches and a trash receptacle at the Lincoln Monument. “It’s a historic neighborhood on the national historic registry with a very active neighborhood association, which sponsors many activities throughout the year,” she says. 

Susan Seamonds, former president of the Lincoln Fairview Neighborhood Association

Besides progressive dinners and annual picnics, the group has hosted events such as the Lincoln-Fairview Neighborhood Porchfest (hosting local band Pony Creek). “The band was on the deck and the people were on the driveway. It was a fun time. It was a beautiful night,” Freudenberg says. 

With the neighborhood surrounding Fairview Cemetery, the neighborhood association has also partnered with the city and a Civil War historical group for repairs and plantings at the Kinsman Monument located within the cemetery. The Civil War memorial was built to honor Col. William Kinsman, commanding officer of the 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. 

“Even though it’s a cemetery, Fairview is considered a walking area. A lot of people go there to walk their dogs,” Freudenberg says. “It’s an incredible view of downtown Omaha. It’s beautiful. You’re way up high and that is nice.” 

A trip down Oakland Avenue features the Burke-Woodward House, a brick mansion located at 510 Oakland Ave. It was the former home to attorney Finley Burke and later John G. Woodward, founder of the Woodward Candy Co. 

A few streets in the neighborhood still bear the turn of the century brick-paved streets. A sleepy weekend day finds many homeowners out tending to their yards. Visitors are treated to pleasing Victorian polychrome paint schemes on the houses, which vary in architectural styles: Richardsonian Romanesque, Victorian, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, Foursquare and Craftsman. “It’s a collection of older homes and neat landscape,” Freudenberg says. 

Sheryl Garst and family enjoy their porch in the historic neighborhood.

Some may find it surprising that the same artist who created the famous statue of Abraham Lincoln in our nation’s capital, Daniel Chester French, also has a piece of art in the neighborhood—the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial. Chester was commissioned by the daughters of Grenville and Ruth Anne Dodge to create the famous cast bronze sculpture, otherwise known as the “Black Angel” statue. 

Their mother, who was dying of cancer, had a reoccurring dream about an angel with a bowl of water who encouraged her to drink. After the third occurrence of the dream, Mrs. Dodge took a drink and died not long after. 

 “She is just incredible. She is just a fabulous work of art,” Freudenberg says. Her laurel-wreathed winged beauty stands on a pink marble pedestal among hushed gardens, her fingers outstretched while a fountain bearing the “water of life” quietly bubbles from her bowl. The Lincoln Fairview Neighborhood Association also coordinated efforts to place a security camera overlooking the sculpture, a longtime source of urban legends, and regularly does cleanups of the area.

Freudenberg remembers that a group once sued the city of Council Bluffs trying to get the statue moved back East. They claimed it “wasn’t appreciated out here in the Midwest and that it was too small of a town and that it needed to be someplace back East in a place of prominence so that more people could enjoy it.” 

“Of course, the city of Council Bluffs won,” he says. As do the residents of Lincoln Fairview keep on winning in their efforts to preserve the charm of their historic home and the monuments within.

Visit 712initiative.org for more information about the historic neighborhoods of Council Bluffs.

This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of OmahaHome Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Burke-Woodward House at 510 Oakland Ave.

Seeking Darkness in the Woods

October 31, 2018 by and
Photography by Durham Museum (provided)
Illustration by Derek Joy

Touring Hummel Park with Midwest Paranormal History Tours

story by Lisa Lukecart

Jamie Nestroyl walks up the short stone steps in the middle of the “Devil’s Punchbowl” at Hummel Park. The wind rips through the bowl one way, then rapidly switches directions. It feels like someone is watching, somewhere off in the covert corners of the woods. Tree roots sever the worn path, reaching skeletal fingers across the dirt. The hushed silence of the dense foliage seems an eerie reminder of rumored satanic rituals. 

The thick, humid air suffocates Nestroyl as the sun descends into twilight. Along with friend Kacie Ransome, they step from the stairs onto a road curving off into sinister shadows.

“Ohhhhhh…that’s scary. Take a picture of it,” Nestroyl says. 

She is dressed comfortably for the hike in a white Midwest Paranormal History Tours t-shirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. As Ransome takes out her phone, Nestroyl turns around. 

Her blue eyes widen…widen…widen…as the primordial urge to flee tickles her spine.

Someone, no, something is standing in the middle of the road. It appears human in form with legs, arms, and a torso. Her boyfriend is 6 foot, 4 inches tall, but this thing is at least eight feet and more massive than any mortal man. Sure, it could be a tall person…but not with yellow glowing eyes. Oh no, it definitely wasn’t human.

The creature stares at them. The shadowy figure reveals no other discernible details. No clothes, no face, no hair. It reminds her of a grainy old photograph. And yet, the fading sunlight doesn’t penetrate its bleak blackness. 

It’s darker than the dark, Nestroyl realizes. 

Nestroyl’s limbs freeze and her chest feels heavy, as if weighed down by a cinder block. She swats at Ransome. When her friend turns around and catches a glimpse of those crazy gleaming eyes, Ransome bolts, screaming as she retreats. Nestroyl doesn’t stick around, either. She follows her hysterical companion, sneakers slapping down the stairs.  

 A dozen fellow hikers in their group rush over to discover the cause of commotion. The ghost hunt was on, but Nestroyl (the founder of Midwest Paranormal History Tour) knows the “Shadow Man” is gone. For now. 

This isn’t Nestroyl’s first brush with the unknown. She has seen full apparitions and really alarming things since she was a child. Now, as a side job, Nestroyl takes folks on supernatural tours to cemeteries, forts, and hikes all around Omaha for an apt-priced $13. Hummel Park is one of her destinations.

Hummel has a wicked history of freaking people out. Hell, even the entrance sign looks like a gravestone. The old pavilion, since torn down, once issued a written warning to “abandon hope all who enter.” Reports of inverted pentagrams, swastikas, and other graffiti have littered the walls. The Devil’s Punchbowl was rumored to be a place of satanic rituals, including animal sacrifices in a smoky fire pit. Most are unsubstantiated rumors, but the urban legends and myths have blackened the beauty of the unmanicured wild pathways. Several are rooted in evil reality while others are just tales told around campfires. 

The legends are tangled and distorted since most have been passed down by word of mouth. One of the urban legends suggests that cannibalistic albino people live in the trees at Hummel, ready to sink their sharp teeth into exposed flesh. Another version of the story claims that they perform the satanic rituals and live in a remote cabin somewhere in the woods. 

Some people claim to have seen the ghost of Jacob Clatanoff, an actual German immigrant who once lived there in the 1900s. His wife supposedly murdered him and then ran off with her lover. Or take the old hermit. He’s missing a nose in some cases, fingers in another. Either way, he’s out to get wanderers. Or try the Devil’s Staircase (also called the Staircase to Hell, or Morphing Stairs). Count the steps up. Then down. Get the same number? Probably not. The stairs are cracked and broken so getting the correct answer isn’t likely. Oh, if the count is the same, feel free to ask the devil for a wish. The price? Your soul. 

People have allegedly killed themselves in Hummel Park, plunging to their demise on the steep eastern side of a natural cliff called the Devil’s Slide. The Omaha Police Department reports most suicides are initially documented as simply a death report, which makes it difficult to search for an exact number at Hummel. 

It has been said that the trees bend and bow in terror because of all the lynchings during the Red Summer of 1919. Even though many of these crimes went unreported or undocumented, it is highly unlikely any happened at Hummel, and there is no historical evidence to support the theory.

After witnessing the shadowy figure on the road, Nestroyl still insists that “there is no way these 202 acres aren’t cursed.” 

Lisa Reda, who has been a member of the UNO Paranormal Society since 2014 and has her own group, Paranormal Energy, has not seen any evidence of supernatural activity in the park. After a meeting four years ago, members decided to do a short investigation of Hummel on a bright sunny afternoon. Spirits have no concept of day and night. Most of the infrared and ultraviolet equipment, though, is optimal after the sun has set. And nighttime provides less noise contamination. Most of what the group found could be explained. For example, any meter readings probably came from power lines. 

“Just because we didn’t get any evidence, doesn’t mean nothing is there. Anytime there is a slightest natural explanation, you have to go with the natural explanation first,” Reda explains. “But if you were going to kill someone and ditch a body, this is the place to do it. Paranormal aside, it is just a creepy place.”

Aside from the urban legends, Hummel Park also has a long and unfortunate history of real-life horror: petty crimes, stolen vehicles, assaults, rape, and murder. Nevertheless, teenagers continue to sneak in for spine-tingling fun, attempting to call up spirits with Ouija boards and violating the park curfew in the process.

Two years ago Greg Sokolik III, along with four friends, went to Hummel near midnight (it closes at 9 p.m., earlier than most parks) for just that kind of an adventure. The 20-year-old says he left right after he was approached by a woman in a tight mini-skirt and tube top who asked if he wanted a “missus for the night.”

“Pick up a prostitute. Dump a dead body. That’s Hummel Park,” says Sokolik, referring to the infamous murder of Laura LaPointe. The victimized sex worker’s nude and bloody body was left in a ditch near the park. An empty brandy bottle and a six-foot-long tree limb were close by her corpse. Four other prostitutes beat her to death for money, a sum of $25 in total. 

Victims of crimes at Hummel have included innocent children. The heavily wooded area made headlines again with the tragic murder of 12-year-old Amber Harris. She was found in a shallow grave at the park in 2006, nearly six months after her disappearance. A cross necklace clung to her remains. Roy Ellis was convicted of killing her and sentenced to death. Ellis allegedly liked to intimidate women, and his former girlfriend told investigators that Ellis drove her to Hummel, dug a grave, and threatened to put her in it.

Ransome lived a block and a half from Harris at the time of her murder. 

“It’s more real to me now than just high school ghost stories,” Ransome recalls. 

Tracy Stratman, the recreation manager for the City of Omaha Parks, has been fighting Hummel’s gory reputation for years. Hummel has been cleaned up to make it a positive experience for visitors. The day camp is focused on nature-rich activities such as hiking, camp games, and even a chicken coop. Camp counselors no longer tell ghost stories or urban legends.

“We see Hummel as a hidden gem for the city of Omaha,” Stratman says. “Our goal is not to scare participants off, but to have an experience they love and to embrace the park.”

And yet, people are still drawn in by the macabre. Nestroyl, along with a few others on her tour, claim to have seen the shadowy figure two other times. 

As the tour concludes, 37-year-old Dustin Sims, his girlfriend, and daughter are counting the steps. He is here for the legends. 

Once, Sims recalls, he visited the outskirts of the park on a late wintry night. He could hear a young child violently screaming inside. 

Did he help or call the police?

“No!” Sims responds, incredulous. 

Why not?

“Because it’s Hummel Park,” he says.

Visit mphtours.com for more information or to book a tour with Midwest Paranormal History Tours.

Historical photos courtesy of the Durham Museum’s Bostwick-Frohardt collection

The History and Mystery of Hummel Park

story by Ryan Roenfeld

Hummel Park’s murky forest conceals tales of dark lore in the loess hills, rising from the Missouri River floodplain on the northern outskirts of Omaha. Behind the dense foliage, there is Satan’s slide and stairs that supposedly change steps with every climb. There are also groves of old oaks, a disc golf course, and folklore aplenty.

The family of N.P. Dodge donated the 202-acre park to the city in 1930. Hummel Park took its name from the amiable Joe Hummel, Omaha’s long-time city park commissioner from 1912-1939 (excepting two terms). It was Hummel, a reliable cog in Tom Dennison’s political machine, who was lauded as “father of Omaha Parks” upon his death at age 79 in 1942.

A few centuries earlier, almost 220 years ago, Manuel Lisa first established the fur-trade post (dubbed Fort Lisa near the park). European demand for furs and fashionable beaver hats drove much of the area’s exploration and economic exploitation. From 1812 until 1823, Fort Lisa was considered the “most important post on the Missouri River” by historian Hiram Chittenden. This was where expeditions north and west were outfitted and launched into the mountains and where the Omaha, Pawnee, and Ioway traded furs for goods. From 1814 until his 1817 resignation, Lisa served as the government Indian Agent as the fur trade and American policy then went hand-in-hand. After Lisa’s 1820 death, the post was taken over by Joshua Pilcher, who abandoned Fort Lisa for Bellevue.

The exact location of Fort Lisa has been lost to time, unlike Cabanne’s Post (also located in the neighborhood and overseen by Jean Pierre Cabanne) established by Bernard Pratte’s “French Company” in 1823. It was from this post that 116 men left in 1824 for Taos (still part of Mexico at the time). By 1825, Cabanne’s Post had become part of the Western Department of Astor’s sprawling American Fur Company, which set about establishing a monopoly on the Missouri. 

Cabanne’s Post was where Peter Sarpy first apprenticed into life along the river, and in 1831, “Ioway Jim” killed a member of the Omaha Nation near Cabanne’s Post, the first recorded murder in an area known today for Hummel Park. It would not be the last. Like Fort Lisa, in 1833, Cabanne’s Post was abandoned in favor of Bellevue.    

A monument to both posts was dedicated by the Daughters of the American Revolution in October 1928. It was rededicated in 2008 and then, within a week, “pretty well demolished” by vandals. Vandalism would plague the park, as would the dumping of trash. In April 2006, volunteers picked up 200 bags of garbage there, including tires, boards, barrels, and furniture, and they discovered the remains of a “1956 or 1957 Chevy” abandoned in a ravine. 

One of Hummel Park’s oldest legends—that it was the site of a colony of albinos—may be explained by the 1934 organization of a 250-acre camp adjacent to the park by Nebraska nudists. All those pale bodies must have looked awfully white, but that history seems to have been covered up. 

Hummel Park history is filled with picnics, egg hunts, nature hikes, and a beloved summer day camp dating from 1949. There is also a very real history of sexual assault, death, and murder. Some incidents took place in the park itself. Others occurred in the rural area nearby but close enough to leave a lingering reputation.

A Timeline of Dark History at Hummel Park

Disturbing Crimes Reported by Local Media

December 1933: 19-year-old Rose Engel was killed in the park when the car she was riding in overturned on a curve.

October 1947: A 19-year-old admitted to drinking heavily before his car smashed into a hayrack filled with University of Omaha students at the park; 20-year-old Freddie Freelin was killed.

January 1949: Two motorcyclists discovered George Rux’s frozen corpse on the outskirts of the park.

October 1950: Two men armed with a hatchet and hammer attacked two soldiers and their dates at the park and then forced the two women, one 15 and the other 21, to leave with them. Both were reportedly raped and then released on a random Omaha street corner.

August 1954: A reported sexual assault of three women at Hummel Park.   

February 1960: The “frozen body” of a woman was discovered near the park.

November 1970: 15-year-old Lori Jones was found dead, shot three times, after her companions claimed they’d left her sleeping inside a car at Hummel Park.

April 1973: A 20-year-old woman was carjacked in Omaha and forced to drive to Hummel Park, where she was raped and then driven back to the city where her assailant fled.

April 1983: The brutal softball-bat murder of 18-year-old prostitute Laura LaPointe happened southwest of the park. Her body was discovered “nude in a ditch” and four other prostitutes were later convicted.

May 1984: Two men were arrested for sexually assaulting a 25-year-old woman at knife-point in Hummel Park.

July 1984: Police had no suspects in the death of 21-year-old Michelle Lamere, who was intentionally run over and left to die north of the park. 

September 1985: A 36-year-old woman reported she was sexually assaulted at Hummel Park.

June 1986: A 34-year-old man was charged with the sexual assault of a 17-year-old Omaha woman at the park.

June 1992: Central High School sophomore Jeremy Drake was killed at the park over stolen car stereo speakers. Drake’s body was discovered by a woman walking her dog.

December 1999: Scott Addison was lured to Hummel Park to sell a stereo where he was beaten and stabbed. His two assailants left him for dead and Addison wrote their names in his own blood on the trunk of his car before he walked a quarter mile to find help.

June 2005: Jose Lucio survived being shot in the back in the park by a member of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) gang.

May 2006: Someone “ghost hunting” in Hummel Park discovered the shallow grave of 12-year-old Amber Harris. Roy Ellis was convicted of rape and murder and was sentenced to death.

February 2008: 16-year-old David Murillo lost control of his Honda in the park and died after he was ejected when his car went into a ravine.

December 2013: Washington County deputies found the body of an unknown man north of the park whose death was considered “suspicious.”

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

Changing Lives After a Life-Changer

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

She never imagined that checking a small box on a job application would have such a big impact.

Jasmine L. Harris was trying to turn her life around from a couple of misdemeanors as a young adult. She learned that answering “yes” to the question of criminal charges in her background put up barriers to employment.

“All I heard was, ‘We can’t hire you’ for almost two years,” Harris says. “And that was with misdemeanors. Someone with a felony on their record doesn’t stand a chance.”

With only her family in her corner and a young son for whom she was now responsible, Harris determined she was going to get her life on track and make a better way for others with similar life experiences.

“I had to get a grip on my life because I was going nowhere fast,” says Harris, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, then a Master of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “If I didn’t make drastic changes, I was going to be dead or in jail.”

With her newfound lease on life, Harris became a health educator and tobacco prevention coordinator for Creighton University School of Medicine’s Clinical Research Office. She also served as civic engagement committee chair for the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals, where she focused on advocacy and awareness of criminal justice issues.

Her passion became helping those who wanted to move beyond past mistakes and find someone to believe in their future. That passion led Harris to co-found Waymaker LLC, an organization that motivates women and girls to overcome setbacks from being involved in the criminal justice system—the kind of service Harris could have used when she was climbing her way back. 

“We focused on making a way of life—creating second chances—for women and girls who were having similar experiences as mine,” says Harris, who focused much of her work in North Omaha where she grew up. “A lot of times, all someone needs is a second chance.”

Harris was the driving force behind efforts such as Black and Brown Legislative Day, when people of color were hosted at the state capitol to learn about the legislative process and register to vote. She also helped push for legislation that would remove the “Criminal History” section from an application for any job in the state—a bill that didn’t make it off the legislative floor.

Harris then turned her attention to volunteering with a new Nebraska organization called Defy Ventures, a group that works with incarcerated and previously-incarcerated people to help them land jobs or become business entrepreneurs. 

She deployed programs such as “CEO of Your New Life,” which focuses on character development, employment readiness, and entrepreneurship training. Defy helps people in post-release develop a new business pitch in a “Shark Tank”-like competition—with the idea that the new business will eventually hire others who have been in jail.

“The main goal is to help people, upon release, be ready for gainful, meaningful employment,” says Harris, who landed a full-time position as Defy’s post-release program manager. “We teach how to talk about your incarceration in a way that doesn’t turn off employers or cause them to pity you.”

Harris, awarded the Omaha NAACP Freedom Fighter Award in 2017 and named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees, knows there might be opportunity to help more people in a bigger city. But the “love-hate relationship” she had with her hometown when she was a teen is now all love. She is motivated by the endless opportunity she sees here.

“I came back here because I see the potential in Omaha,” Harris says. “I see people who sincerely want to help and are making the change. I want to be an integral part of that.”

Visit defyventures.org for more information.

This article was printed in the October/November 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Appropriately Inappropriate

October 30, 2018 by
Photography by Lloyd Bishop

When Benson High School’s class of ’96 voted Amber Ruffin “Class Clown,” they were clearly onto something.

“It [comedy] came about because I was a very ugly child,” Ruffin says. “I had to do something if I was going to survive.” 

For anyone who has noticed the bubbly actress and writer on NBC’s The Late Show with Seth Meyers, “ugly” is hardly an accurate description of the telegenic comic. She delivers incisive social and political commentary with a dose of adorability that makes her messages accessible to a network audience.

It is widely believed that Ruffin is the first woman of color to be a writer on a network late-night talk show. 

“I did comedy for a million years and I never thought to write on a late-night show,” Ruffin says. “It never occurred to me that it might happen, and it’s because [the late-night comedy writers] have all been white men.” 

Ruffin mentions Whoopi Goldberg as a comedy role model, but she also points out that it is important for people to see themselves represented in the entertainment they consume. 

“I do freak out about representation because my entertainment [growing up] didn’t reflect my life,” Ruffin says. “You can’t look at the success of all of these minority-led shows and movies, and not realize that everyone got something horribly wrong for most of all time.” 

Born and raised in Omaha, her performing career was launched as a 12-year-old. She was playing piano for the choir at Trinity Hope Foursquare Church when the director left, and Ruffin found herself in charge because she was the one who could play piano. 

“These old people are listening to me; everyone else better, too,” Ruffin says, recalling how that experience gave her confidence. 

She went on to take major roles in plays at Benson High School, including a star turn as Princess Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress—a role once played by legendary comics Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman. However, acting was not originally her plan. 

Ruffin coached gymnastics after graduating from high school and says she envisioned a coaching career. During the same period, she became involved with the local theater scene and received positive attention for her work with the now-defunct Stages of Omaha at the Millennium Theatre while also taking improv classes.

While performing with an Omaha group at the Chicago Improv Festival, Ruffin says the co-founder of the iO Theater (formerly known as ImprovOlympic), Charna Halpern, saw her perform. Halpern told her that if she moved to Chicago she’d be performing full-time within a year. 

Ruffin was 22 and had never lived anywhere other than Omaha. But she wanted to do improv, and Chicago is the cradle of the American improv scene. 

“I interned at iO and I took classes at iO,” Ruffin says. “I was out of classes and did like three shows before I got Boom Chicago and had to go.”

Halpern’s prediction was right. Ruffin was on her way to a full-time job with Boom Chicago, which produces a sketch comedy show in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The progression took slightly less than a year. 

“I’d never been out of the country,” Ruffin says.

The time performing in the Netherlands was formative for Ruffin. It allowed her to hone her craft and find her voice as a comedian. 

“Just the sheer volume of shows that you do, you learn what people like to hear from you,” Ruffin says.

She points out that performing for audiences who spoke English as a second or third language was great for developing technique and timing because actors are forced to slow down and fine-tune their timing. Ruffin also says that she appreciates the directness of Dutch culture. 

“Dutch people do not have a political correctness thing,” Ruffin says, explaining that the performers were told the only off-limits topics were cancer and the Holocaust. “It’s a country of people who look at the truth all the time, and there is no sugar-coating anything.” 

She stayed in Amsterdam until 2006 and then worked with Second City in both Denver and Chicago. Ruffin was performing on tour in New York City when she met her Dutch husband, Jan. He happened to be on vacation in the city, and she gave him her email address. Not long after they met, Ruffin returned to Amsterdam to perform with Boom Chicago again. 

After a few years, the couple moved to Los Angeles so that Ruffin could further her career. She worked as a nanny and Jan was employed as a security guard. They did not love it. 

“In LA people are just so…polite [in a way] that reads false. In Omaha we’re polite in a way that reads genuine,” Ruffin says, explaining that the culture in Los Angeles was very different from the forthright qualities of the Dutch or the “Nebraska Nice” of her childhood. 

A few years passed before Ruffin and a small cohort of black female comics were invited to audition for Saturday Night Live. During the 2013-2014 season, the show came under fire for the lack of black women in the cast, despite the growing need for an actress to play prominent women of color such as Michelle Obama and Oprah.

“Everyone got SNL but me,” Ruffin says. 

She went back to LA empty-handed, and for two miserable days she thought nothing would come of the audition. Then Seth Meyers called and offered her a job on his writing staff. 

“We screamed and we lost our minds when I called my mom,” Ruffin says. 

Jan was working nights and she woke him up to share the news, “I jumped on the bed and was shaking him, ‘We’re going to New York!’”

Living in another country and being married to someone from that country has also given her a new cultural perspective. For instance, she recalls Jan noticing a security guard who followed Ruffin around a store as if she was going to shoplift. 

“His seeing racism in action is absolutely shocking to him,” Ruffin says. “Having grown up in America—especially in Omaha, Nebraska—I have a high tolerance for racism.” 

Ruffin expresses fondness for her hometown, but her “Nebraska Nice” blends with “Dutch Directness” when discussing inequality. 

“I’m done explaining racism,” Ruffin says. “I’ve served my time. You can kill yourself to get these people to understand the world, and I’m just not doing it.” 

On Late Night she’s become known for several recurring sketches, including “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” in which Ruffin and Jenny Hagel, a gay woman, tell jokes that would be inappropriate if told by a white man. 

“You always write jokes that you like the most, and it’s clear that Seth can’t tell them,” Ruffin says. “Jenny saw these jokes going to waste, and it was like, ‘What if we got to say these jokes?’ It came from watching all those jokes go in the trash.” 

Ruffin says one of her favorite sketches was a reaction to professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. In a bit of manic comedy, Ruffin tumbles, jumps, and rolls around the set trying to figure out the right way to protest while Seth corrects her. 

“That was so silly, but it was exactly what I wanted,” Ruffin says. “I wanted to goof around real hard, but I wanted to make my point. It was the cleanest, funnest way to say something that I feel is extremely important.” 

As if she isn’t busy enough working on a daily television show, Ruffin is also a writer on the Comedy Central sitcom, Detroiters. She’s appeared multiple times on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, and says that’s she’s always looking for new projects. 

This year she also has a big decision to make; what does one wear when they’ve been nominated for an Emmy (with the cast of Drunk History)? 

“Oh, my God, please, what is that dress gonna be?” 

For updates from the comedian, follow her on Twitter @ambermruffin.

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