Tag Archives: Jonathan Tvrdik

The Evolution 
of Pop Music

April 15, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Admittedly, 34-year-old Omaha native Jonathan Tvrdik doesn’t sleep much. Between co-owning Benson’s Krug Park, working as a consultant for his wife Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik’s business Hello Holiday, being a father to 2-year-old son Hugo, directing music videos and commercials, making music, and holding down a day job as both the executive creative director at Phenomblue and head of product design at Rova, there’s not a lot of room for much else. It’s a path he can trace back to childhood.

“When I was a little kid, I played by myself and was always building things,” Tvrdik recalls. “I’m an adult version of that kid who is constantly making new project—like a band, bar, new app, or music video. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person with lots of irons in the fire.”

Ironically, that’s where the inspiration behind the name of Tvrdik’s upcoming solo album came from. Titled Irons, it’s a project over two years in the making and one that took careful crafting with the help of longtime friend and drummer for The Faint Clark Baechle. Busting at the seams with heavy themes of introspection and emotional growth, Irons illustrates a tumultuous period in Tvrdik’s life.

“For better or for worse, that’s where I’ve always been—busy,” he says. “I don’t even know what that has created in me—like who am I as a person? I’ve always been a workhorse, but who am I really? Each song dissects a different thing I am doing or interested in, or a certain vice I have as a result of all the stuff I am working with. It’s a very self-analytical sort of record.”

Beginning with “Something Better” and culminating with “Star Stick,” the 11-track album is like Joy Division meets The Faint, or as Tvrdik describes it, “Frank Sinatra on top of electronica-goth.” It was a true labor of love and Tvrdik really trusted Baechle’s expertise. Some tracks he thought were polished and ready to go; Baechle would hear them and mistakingly refer to them as “demos.” It took the experience of his fine-tuned ear to sew up any loose ends.

“We’ve made a lot music together over the years from a musician and engineer standpoint,” Tvrdik explains. “For this one, we started working through the process of what it was going to look like. I always knew when I was done mixing and recording it on my own, I would take it to him to refine. My producorial technique is very raw. For songs I thought were done and perfect, Clark would be like, ‘I got your demos’ [laughs]. I’m very right brained and he’s very left. I wanted his brain to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and nit pick the hell out of it, which he did. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Although Tvrdik’s music background goes back to The Cog Factory days, where Omaha staples like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Cursive’s Tim Kasher, and The Faint’s Todd Fink (Baechle’s older brother) got their start in the early ’90s, naturally he’s experienced plenty of evolutionary changes in terms of his musical output. At one point, he was in a hardcore band, and later a noise-based outfit. While he felt he was still emotionally expressive in all of them, it’s with the forthcoming Irons he felt he was truly able to effectively communicate to the listener exactly what he was experiencing.

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

Modern Love

December 3, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
If there’s any question about whether Omaha is ready for a new all-vegan restaurant, the first couple month’s of Modern Love’s dinner service seems like a definitive answer.

“We are packed nightly,” says co-owner Isa Chandra Moskowitz. “For the first month we were basically booked every night. So yes, apparently Omaha is receptive to vegan food. It’s awesome.”

The city has been buzzing about vegan food since Moskowitz announced last year she’d be opening a restaurant somewhere in the city—the biggest local news in vegan food since popular lunch spot Daily Grub closed in 2011.

Moskowitz, a Brooklyn native, co-creator of the Post-Punk Kitchen web series and website (with frequent collaborator Terry Hope Romero), and author of eight vegan cookbooks—her most recent, Isa Does It, was released in October 2013—relocated to Omaha a few years ago to be with her boyfriend. After consulting in Omaha’s dining scene, she engineered a meatless Monday menu at the Benson Brewery last year.

A venture of her own seemed inevitable.

“There isn’t a vegan restaurant here, or even really a vegetable-focused restaurant,” Moskowitz adds, “and it feels important to create something like that right in the middle of the country.”

Moskowitz leased the space on South 50th Street next to O’Leaver’s Pub in August 2013. She partnered with Krug Park owners Jim Johnson, Dustin Bushon, Marc Leibowitz, and Jonathan Tvrdik. She then brought on chef Michaela Maxwell, and started renovating.

“I’m still working on the décor,” Moskowitz said after her first month in operation. “I thought it would be better to start with simplicity and build on things when we saw how the restaurant actually looked and functioned once filled with people.”

And the name “Modern Love?”

“The plain truth behind the name was that I couldn’t decide on a name,” Moskowitz says. “As I drove to scout out a restaurant location a few years ago, the song “Modern Romance” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on. And I was like, ‘That’s a great name!’ But friends thought that was a bit much, and it became Modern Love.”

And with Modern Love’s menu of “swanky vegan comfort food,” it makes sense, Moskowitz says.

“It’s comfort food with a modern twist, made with love.”

Some of those modern takes on familiar fare include—for now, as the menu will change every few months—stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms with a zucchini slaw and grilled summer squashes; a modern nicoise salad with chickpea salad and devilled potatoes standing in for the traditional eggs alongside green beans, tomatoes, and olives; a marsala entrée that puts seitan (aka wheat gluten) at the forefront with a root vegetable mash, herbs, and greens; and desserts including pies and non-dairy ice creams.

“The Mac & Shews is far and away the most popular menu item,” Moskowitz said. “It’s our cashew-based mac and cheese sauce, pecan-crusted tofu, barbecue cauliflower and the most amazing sautéed garlicky kale and okra in the world in a tomato vinaigrette. Michaela did a really bang-up job
with that dish.”

For the first month, seating at the restaurant was by-reservation-only, Nice problem for a business owner to have. In order to encourage walk-ins, Moskowitz recently updated her online reservation system so the restaurant is only half-booked on any given day.

“I am not the type of person who’s going to give a speech to convince anyone that vegetables are delicious—which is good,” she says, “because people are just coming in and finding out for themselves.”

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