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: https://omahamagazine.com/articles/best-of-omaha-2019/