Monday, November 10, 2008

Forgotten Cuisine ...

(Update March 18, 2012: Second chapter is now on line HERE.)

(Benson fans may appreciate a walk-through of Benson's central business district, HERE.

(Yet another update, March 30. A vintage Club 64 menu has surfaced! Read All About It HERE.)

(Another update, Friday, March 19. HERE.)

(Update: I posted a follow-up to this article on Friday, March 12, 2010, responding to some of the recent and not so recent comments received here. You can read this follow-up HERE)



When you think of Omaha cuisine, what comes to mind?

The Reuben sandwich, perhaps? Two Omaha institutions (or more) claimed to have invented it, neither of which survive to back up their claims.

The TV Dinner, maybe? Uh-huh, TV Dinners were invented here! (Hmmmm ... you really don't hear the expression "TV Dinner" anymore, do you?)

The Runza? Well, sortakinda -- uh -- no, not really, actually.

The Tavern sandwich? Nope, that's Iowa.

Unlike other major cities, Omaha doesn't really have its type of pizza, borrowing from many others (okay, okay, maybe Godfathers, but that's really a brand, not a style!), nor its type of barbecue, borrowing from Kansas City, Memphis and others.

The one thing you do think of when you think of food in Omaha is steak! Omaha is in The Beef State, and has a long history with the meatpacking industry.

What I first remember as what I would call "Omaha Cuisine" was that which was featured by countless independent Omaha steak houses, most of them operated by multi-generation Italian families.

These were not unlike the Sicilian red-sauce places back east, but featured more steaks, chops, and seafood to an extent, as well as the traditional Italian specialties.

The typical entree came with sides included, unlike the Morton-Chris ilk of today, with a house salad in a garlic-rubbed wooden bowl, and, of course, a side of pasta. :) A carafe of house wine was optional. :)

Let's take a few minutes and reflect of the cuisine long departed ...

I'm also doing something I never intended to do. I'm using some photos other than my own, collected from various sources, as well as various ads, to illustrate what is long gone.



Cantoni's:

The first restaurant of this type I remember very well was Cantoni's, which stood for years at the corner of 19th. and Leavenworth. I became acquainted with the hostess, who recommended it to me, and I visited semi-regularly until its demise.

This was a true family-operated restaurant, operated at first by Lou Cantoni and family, and later by the Marchello brothers.



What happened?

Nobody seems to know. It just closed one day at short notice, sometime around 1977. It reopened briefly as a Mexican restaurant, closed again, then opened again briefly with their former Italian-steakhouse theme, and then closed for good. The Marchello brothers remained in the catering business into the 1980s.

What's there now?

It's a bar. Connections. The Marine Room, their party and overflow room, is now a tattoo parlor.


The building, however, is better known for a latecomer to the restaurant scene, Dixie Quicks, which occupies the westmost portion of the building, a portion not occupied by Cantoni's. Dixie Quicks was featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives program.



Sparetime:

The Sparetime Cafe, operated by the Nisi family, has a long history in Omaha.

The Sparetime I remember was the one at 5th. and Pierce, right in the heart of Omaha's Little Italy. As I researched things, I found far more references to a Sparetime "On the Strip" on south 72nd.


I distinctly remember the Sparetime at the original location in the late 1970s, but those in the know tell me that they moved to 72nd., and a Mexican restaurant opened at the old location, until, yes, the Sparetime moved back!


The section of south 72nd. between Dodge and Pacific streets was known in the 1960s and 1970s as "The Strip", no, not for casinos, but for clubs and restaurants.

I really don't remember the Sparetime on the Strip, but the evidence tells me otherwise. :)









What happened?

As I said, I don't remember the Sparetime on the Strip. I best remember the Sparetime when it moved back to Little Italy to the original location.

In the mid 1980s, the Nisi family sold the original Sparetime building on 5th. to the operator of Bob's Country Fixins, which operated out of a much smaller location just south of the Burlington Station. Bob's moved to the old Sparetime building, only to be closed shortly after due to a tragic structural failure of the building!

Bob's never reopened.

What's there now?

There's not much left of the Strip on 72nd! I really can't think of any full-service restaurants on 72nd. between Dodge and Pacific.

Driving to the former Strip address, we see yet another cell phone office.


However, driving to the back brought back some memories. We see this building, shown below, now occupied by a social service agency. This was one of those "ah-ha" (Take On Me?) moments. :)

I remember dining at two restaurants in this building. First, a buffet kind of place, don't remember the name, but I was very underwhelmed.

Second, a Mexican place, again, underwhelming.

Both of these had to be in the late 1970s.

I believe that it was this building that housed the Sparetime on the Strip, with the cell phone shop being in what was the parking lot.


While the building on the Strip is recognizable, the site on south 5th. looks like a disaster area! It is!


This is all that remains of what was one of the most popular restaurants in the Omaha area.



The Gas Lamp:

Another family with strong ties to the Omaha restaurant and club scene is the Firmature family, and for years their flagship eatery was the Gas Lamp, at 30th. and Leavenworth.



What happened?

Fire!

Firmature's Sidewalk Cafe in the Regency complex served "Gas Lamp Prime Rib" into the 1990s, but that location finally succumbed during a Regency remodeling.

What's there now?


Nothing much! A parking lot. If you look carefully, you may see the remains of part of the foundation of what was the Gas Lamp.




Caniglia's:

There can be no discussion of family-operated restaurants in Omaha without mentioning the Caniglia family.

Although everyone pronounces this "can IG lee uh", those in the know tell me that it's properly pronounced "can EEL ia", with three syllables.

The Caniglia family is credited for popularizing pizza in the Omaha area, opening their long-lived flagship pizzaria and restaurant on south 7th. shortly after World War II.


The original restaurant was expanded several times throughout its lifetime.



What happened?

They blame the casinos.

What's there now?

Townhomes, on Caniglia Plaza.





Palazzo 'Taliano:

As the Caniglia family grew, so did its imperium, with several spinoffs, one which survives today.

One of the Caniglia's first aggressive expansions was the Palazzo 'Taliano, on south 84th., which some tell me was originally intended to replace the '40s vintage building in Little Italy.



What happened?

I don't know. They appear to have shifted their emphasis back to the original Little Italy location, which lasted until the mid 2000s.

What's there now?


It's a Shriners hall. Same building, still in great shape.

They tell me, however, that it had a brief second life as a dinner theater in the early 1970s.



Mr. C's:

One of the Caniglia brothers, Yano "Mr. C.", took off in a different direction in a different part of town. He opened the Royal Boy Drive-In, directly across from Fort Omaha, then a thriving Naval Reserve training center in North Omaha.


The drive-in was an immediate hit and became a popular hangout for North Omaha teens and sailors from the Navy base.

The drive-in expanded, added an indoor sit-down restaurant, and began to specialize in pizza and other Italian specialties, as opposed to burgers, chicken, and fries.


By the early 1970s, the drive-in was gone, and Mr. C's assumed the identity of a full-service restaurant.


The interior decor, although somewhat meretricious, was classy in its own sort of way, with dayglow dioramas and such. "We put up the lights for the holidays and never took them down!"


Outdoor dining was featured in Mr. C's heyday, quite the contrast to the original outdoor dining in cars!



What happened?

They blame the casinos.

Now now, in all fairness, one prevailing reason for the closure was that Mr. C. wanted to retire and none of the close family wanted to take over the business.

What's there now?

The Mr. C. complex is still there, but abandoned, occupying the better part of a city block.


The facility is very large, in disrepair, in an area that is regarded as somewhat unsalubrious.




Other Caniglia's ventures included the Drawing Room, their Millard location, and the Top Of The world, in the Woodmen Tower, on the tippy-top floor (and charge it, please).



Little Frank's:

Caniglia's neighbor to the north, on south 7th., was Little Franks. What I remember most about this was that it was very brightly lit, more so than Caniglia's, with caricatures of the proprietors on the marquee.



What happened?

I don't think they can blame the casinos.

What's there now?

More townhomes.





Trentino's / Angie's / Lucky's:

Three incarnations, all a bit different.

I first remember this as Trentino's, a very nice Little Italy club and restaurant, and I considered this to be a cut above Caniglia's, Little Frank's, and Sparetime.


With very little warning it morphed into Angie's, named after Angelina Bonofede, whose recipes were used.

One semi-interesting trivium is that Trentino's used a 10th. Street address while Angies and Lucky's used the 1001 Pacific address.



Angie's was gone in a flash, soon to be replaced by Lucky's 1001, which never really caught on. Notice the signage.



What happened?

They blame the casinos, I think. (Blame Canada?)

What's there now?

Pssssst! Hey kid, wanna buy a restaurant?





Ross':

The crown jewel of the 72nd. Street Strip was unquestionably Ross', operated for decades by the Lorello family. This has to be my all-time favorite Omaha steak house, and my first choice for introducing out of town guests to Omaha cuisine.

Ross' was a very classy place, and I am hard pressed to recall hearing even a single complaint about the place!




What happened?

Lack of progeny.

What's there now?


Hey, couldn't it have at least been a Ross's Dress For Less? :)



Marchio's:

Another one of my all-time faves was Marchio's in South Omaha. This is another place where I would always take out-of-towners to show them what Omaha dining was like.



What happened?

Don't blame the casinos, but you can blame the IRS!

What's there now?

Howard's, relocated from their 24th. St. location shortly after Marchio's closure.





Frankie And Phyl's:

This really wasn't a steakhouse, it was more of a "joint", something you might see on Diners, Drive-Inns, and Dives on the Food Network, were it open today.

I might go as far as to call this one a genuine "dive", but in a positive sort of way. It was nothing to look at, outside or inside.

The food was great! The atmosphere was, well ..., gritty! A hardcore inner-city eatery.



What happened?

I don't know. One day I drove by and it was closed.

What's there now?

The building is there, still standing, vacant. Salatamu!



Honorable mention!

I ran across this while perusing old ads.

Whoever needs the Big Mac and the Whopper, when you have the Miss Monster! :)



Uh, what happened to the eighth, and the ninth?



There are others, there are many others, remembered and forgotten, and to try to name them is an exercise in futility. These are the ones I remember, and the ones for which I can attest to excellence.



So, are the casinos really to blame?

Whenever a restaurant in the Omaha area closes, it seems like the reason the owners give is competition -- both in terms of dining choices and competition for disposable dollars -- from the casinos. Does this pass the sanity check?

We now have three casinos in the metro area. All three have a buffet, a steak house, and some kind of a casual diner or coffee shop. That's nine eateries added to the market among the three casinos.

If we look on the streets, on line, or in the phone book, we'll see countless other restaurants which have opened during the lifetime of the casinos. These include more contemporary steak houses, such as Sullivans, Paxton Chop House, Spencers, etc., and Italian places such as Vincenzo's, Malara's, and a whole slew of more casual pizza-pasta type places.

Add to that the recent openings of numerous Mexican and Asian offerings of ever-increasing popularity. We're not even counting the various cookie-cutter formula restaurants which spring up (and die) like weeds along our thoroughfares.

The nine offerings at the three casinos are easily eclipsed by the copious assortment of others which have opened in the area.

The real answer, however, is the opening of several new non-gaming restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the casinos, such as Ruby Tuesday, Quaker Steak and Lube, and yes, Hooters. All of these are packed on Friday and Saturday evenings, only footsteps from the nine casino-based choices.

So, are casinos to blame? I don't know, you decide!



Alive!
Survive!
Thrive!

Not all is lost, however!

In an era dominated by formula eateries, prefabricated Americana, and predictable mediocrity, Omaha still boasts several of the original, mostly Italian, steak houses, living on and doing what they know how to do best, serving Omaha's cuisine to this generation and the next.

Let's take a look at those you can enjoy today, none of which appear to be on the endangered species list!

Johnny's:

Johnny's Cafe has been an anchor of South Omaha, right on the edge of the former Union Stockyards. Johnny's was recently featured in the film About Schmidt.



Johnny's has a loyal regular following, although I do think it's slipped a bit since I first sampled their fare back in the 1970s. Johnny's is still operated by the Kawa family.

Johnny's had a short-lived second location in Millard.

The place known as Johnny's Italian Steak House in Village Point(e), which is a chain, has no connection to the original Johnny's in South Omaha.



Gorats:

The best preserved of the bunch, virtually unchanged from the 1940s, has to be Gorat's, a favorite of mine and a favorite of gazillionaire Warren Buffett.


Compare the porte cochere and the signage in the pre-Mastercard era ad above to the 2008 photo below, unchanged, yet timeless!



Eat your heart out, Arnie Morton!

Piccolo's:

Another well-preserved specimen is Piccolo's, a.k.a. Piccolo Pete's.



Cascio's:

The low-rise building, dating from the 1940s, has been spiffed up a bit in recent years, but the tradition lives on inside.




La Casa:

For those who don't know La Casa, take a look at the photo of their iconic sign. Don't look at the next photo, and tell me if this is a Mexican restaurant or an Italian restaurant. Which is it? :)



"La Casa" does translate to "the house" in both Italian and Spanish. I've known a few other restaurants in other locations known as La Casa, and all of them were Mexican. (I also remember an Italian restaurant known as The House in the Allston area of Boston.) :)



Anthony's:

On south 72nd. Street, but several miles away from what was the "Strip", Anthony's has stood for decades in what is otherwise a warehouse and industrial area.


Several of the restaurants used to have a similar steer statue. Ross' had theirs in an almost identical display a couple miles to the north.


Anthony's is trying to keep up with the times, with their Ozone ultra-lounge.



The sign notes the entertainment which is featured on Monday's.[sic]

Venice Inn:

Caniglia's lives on! The sole survivor of the once-mighty empire still stands proudly on Pacific Street.

213 comments:

1 – 200 of 213   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

What about Comento's, down east of the Stations. Couple blocks north of Caniglia's and Frank's.

Omababe said...

>What about Comento's

I've never heard about that one, sorry. It may have been a bit before my time.

Larry Andrews said...

Very cool list. I'm in town for a bit and wanted to take the family out...turns out that most of the first places I thought of are on the 'gone' list. :(

One family restaurant that also survives is the Bohemian Cafe...dono if it's a good fit for the list but they definitely have good food.

What a shame to see so many places gone.

Nicolas said...

Thanks for the memories. Sometimes when your mind forgets, your tongue remembers.

The one's I miss are the three Greek-American places used to be downtown. Ambassador, Olympic, and Virginia. Ambassador was at 25 and Farnam and was oonce the only full service 24 hour restaurant in Omaha. Olympic was at 15 and Farnam and was late night but I don't think 24. Virginia was owned by the family of movie director Alexander Payne.

Also Harry's steak house in the Conant Hotel. Sing along in the piano bar, songbooks on the tables.

Omaha used to have a White Castle, 25 and Harney, but the big one downtown was a dozen or so Harkerts Holsum Hamburgers for lunch. Also for lunch you had Bishop's Cafeteria and Northrup Jones. Northrup's had a sister restaurant, the Olde English Inn in Dundee, then moved to Countryside Village. Also the Hilltop House in Dundee. Sorry to ramble on but I did enjoy this and it brought back all kinds of memories.

Omababe said...

>The one's I miss are the three
>Greek-American places used to
>be downtown. Ambassador,
>Olympic, and Virginia.

I remember the Ambassador quite well, too well, as I happened to be in there the night that one of the owners was shot. :(

I kinda remember the Olympic (Olympia? Olympus?) as a place where Jazz is now, but I was only there once that I remember. The others have to be before my time (in Omaha, that is).

Anonymous said...

Lucky's is still open at times for the bar and for special events. They may try to reopen fully.

Ice Cream Man said...

You mention Harkerts as being all over downtown. Another all over the place was Reed's Ice Cream, long before Dairy Queen. Stands all over Omaha. Reeds closed and became the original Whirla-Whip in Wahoo and Fremont. Other great ice cream was Evan's at 35 and Center, also N Broadway over in CB.

stephen said...

Steve from the 50's

Don't forget Goodrich malts. Still the best I have ever had.

Went to Ross Steak down by the stockyards when I was there in the 90's. The steak was disappoinging....not like the 50's.

Not mentioned on the menu from Oddo's was the "Henpecked Henry". Hamburger, cheese, hot dog, bacon, and a shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, pickle relish sauce. I still make them to this day.

Also King's with their Cheese Frenchee. Deep fried cheese sandwich. There was still a restaurant in the 90's that made them. Don't know what the name is.

Lyle said...

I grew up in Omaha, a true Benson Bunny. I now edit and publish a weekly newspaper in North San Diego County (www.thecommunitypaper.com).

First, let me thank you for the many memories; secondly, my compliments on your writing style. You're good. Very good.

I started as a broadcaster at KBON (long since gone) with the all night show. (I was there when Fritz of Omaha was all the rage). When on a break I'd saunter over to Harry's bar and grill; Knew Harry quite well. I got to be a regular.

Don't get back to Omaha very often (and with this winter's weather, don't think I will till mid summer!)

Enjoyed your blog. Very well done. I have one as well, drop in anytime to Lyle's Place.
http://lyle-lylesplace.blogspot.com/

Thanks for the memories!

lyle e davis

thepaper@cox.net

Lyle said...

Oooops! Forgot to mention as a follow up to your excellent steakhouse feature . . . two other great memory places:
1. Roses Lodge - great chicken, now closed.
2. Irvington Ice Cream - Best ice cream ever. Now closed.
3. Steve's Bar and Grill, middle of 'downtown' Benson. Was still open a few years ago. Great hamburgers and fries, the old jukebox selector at each table, white tile with burgundy tile decorating here and there; a real 'atmosphere' restaurant. If still open, I'll head there first when nexe "home" in Omaha.
4. Tiner's Drive In - long since gone. The "In" Place to gather for Burgers, fries and malts. I can drive to the old location but don't remember the address.
5. Royal Dairy Ice Cream Bar. Long since closed. Super ice cream. 69th & Maple.

You've jogged my memory cells; probably more memories will come later.

Thanks for a really interesting blog!

Harl said...

Excellent reminiscence, and the other readers have brought back some happy memories. I remember as a 12-year-old in the summer of 1948 for the first time having hamburgers at a place at 30th and Fort Sts. called "Marshall's." This was the forerunner of "Mr. C's" and it remained "Marshal's" or "Marshall's Drive-In" until at least 1952. I recall the slow transition from drive-in to standard restaurant under "Mr. C's"
(Yano Caniglia's) ownership. My understanding is that "Mr. C's," like so many family businesses, ultimately closed because a younger generation was not inclined, or in a position,to continue the business. Still, my enjoyment of the place extended over sixty years.
I also remember my first meal at Johnny's Cafe in 1948. Indeed, I had my retirement party there in 2003, and it is still a treat to go there. My wife and I go often to the Venice Inn and Anhony's, so all is not lost!

Harl

Anonymous said...

Little Franks on 7th was sold to the Fraternal Order of Police aprx 1977. The FOP sold it in aprx 1990 to Caniglia's (next door). Caniglia's demolished the building and turned it into a parking lot. There was a small brick house between Caniglia's and Little Franks and the woman who lived there had the right to live there till her death aprx 1990. She was the wife of "Frank". There was a tunnel that led from Little Franks to her house - convenience for the family to travel back and forth to work! Story goes that the tunnel was originally built for bootleggin purposes - make the booze in the house and transport it sight unseen thru the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to forget Short Stop in So. Omaha on 42nd St. They had the best fried chicken around.
Current place is Joe Tess which was on Diner's, Dive etc. Omaha has always had the best in eateries.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful memories this has brought. I must also mention The Ritz on 48th and Center - a neighborhood favorite.

Barb O said...

I enjoyed this so much. Brought back many memories from my youth. I also recall a place called the "Blackstone" had great fare. Also a great drive through like Mr. C's only in west Omaha at about 83rd and Dodge called Todd's. Great greasy tacos. And B&G's, still operating at 78th and Dodge. Loose meat sandwiches to die for. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if you know whatever happened to Roses Lodge that was near 72nd and Dodge Street I think. It was a chicken place that we would go to once in a while. I am a transplanted Nebraskan living in Houston and frequently think of places that we used to eat. I enjoyed looking at the places you've mentioned and remember many nights spent in Little Italy eating pizza.

dee said...

What about Kenny's on 72nd & Dodge. The location is now a Borders book store. It was a great place to take the family.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories, Went to North High and remember Friday nights at Mr.C's after the games and the sock hops. It's too bad our children will not know good resturants.

Jim said...

Ahh! Cantoni's! 70 cents for spaghetti and a salad--in the 50's. 90 cents if you wanted two meatballs. The sauce was not to be topped! One could buy a quart of the sauce on the way home from work at the UP.

And what about Tiner's Drive-in?

Jim in Grass Valley, California

terry s said...

HOW ABOUT SADDLE CREEK DRIVE IN & NIFTY BAR & GRILL BOTH HOLY NAME HANG OUTS

Marc Splittgerber said...

So many memories...........how about Lay's Arbor Inn (90th and Arbor), Brother Sebastians (120th and Pacific), Caniglia's Venice Inn (69th and Pacific, with Davey Boldnose on the Piano), The Dundee Dell, Nasser's, Henry's Hamburgers, Burger Chef, the various cafeterias at the Brandeis stores, Charlie's Blue Room (40tha nd Leavenworth). Sure do miss Omaha.

weryun said...

I think Frank of Frankie and Phyls died last year. Never got there, until we read about it in the paper we didn't know it was there but it sounded good.

Anonymous said...

After I left Omaha & moved from Chicago to Mpls to KC & elsewhere, I would tell people about the great Omaha steak houses & they always thought theirs must be better. Finally, I visited O with some guys from Chicago & KC. Took them to the old Cascios and Al's nephew Larry served up some great fillets with spaghetti and soft bread sticks on the side and, of course their crisp salad. Wow! No more arguing about great meals.

Tiner's Drive In was at 44th & Dodge and Caniglia's North Omaha served their addictive Pizza Burgers! Wow! How many of those did I eat. I never could duplicate that original sauce. The last time I ate there, (ten years ago?) the sauce on the burger was not as good and the patty was way larger and not thin and crusty like the 60's grilled crisp with cheese burned on.
It was aleays worth a drive down Saddlecreek for a Goodrich Malt. And Tiner's had the best curly-cue fries I ever ate. Grew up at 40th & Dodge and then North Omaha.
Gary - St Louis Area

debmcc said...

Just thought I would add that although it was stated that there were no complaints about Ross's steakhouse, I seem to remember that restaurant did not allow black people back in the 50's. So, as far as I'm concerned, they don't deserve any praise.

Anonymous said...

About Rose Lodge...It is long gone but not forgotten,,The cool (Judy) has had a place in Traynor Iowa that sserves the same menu.....Mrs Rose retired and passed away in Fla years ago. My mother worked there for 45 years

LouCan said...

Wow, that was a great summary. Thank you very much for taking the time to put all that information together. I am one of the third generation of the Caniglia family and I was practically born in one of our restaurants. I worked with my family at the original Caniglia's on 7th, Mr. C's, Caniglia's World (top of the Woodmen), Lou Caniglia's Steakhouse on 88th & Maple and Luigi's Restaurant on 114th & W. Dodge Road.

I also remember the Palazzo Italiano from when I was a very young boy. The reason that restaurant closed was that the city decided to close and widen both Center St. and 84th St. at the same time. It was a beautiful dinner theater and night club and the clientele didn't appreciate having to drive through mud to get to it. There was also one of the first frozen pizza factories ever, on the west north side of the building. The building was constructed with steel beams and was built so that more floors could be added if more space was required.

I really miss all of my family's restaurants but I am proud of my cousins at the Venice Inn and Piccolo's for continuing the tradition!

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Does anyone remember the Old English Inn that was on or around 5oth and Dodge---not sure about that! We used to go there on Sunday for lunch and they had a ham slice with some kind of raisin sauce on it that was great.There was also a restaurant on Dodge that served prime rib that was great! Oh---I just thought of it's name--Hilltop House!

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Evans ice cream was a big favorite of my family. Even though it was quite a walk it was not unusual for us to walk there on a warm night and have ice cream.

superstar said...

What aboutr Goldberg's

Marilyn Scheffler said...

I don't know what Goldbergs is----I've never heard of it as a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember Club 89? They had great food and Vegas style entertainment. Our family has lots of wonderful memories of that place. It started out as a chicken joint and when it changed ownership the new people turned it into quite the hot spot. The same owner had another place, Club 64 in Council Bluffs but I think both places closed when the casinos came in. What a shame.

valerie said...

How about Bishop's Buffet? And, as far as I remember, Club 89 burned down.

Trentino's was the bomb... that was the epitome of the Italian steak joints.

Sharon said...

Big Joe's Drive-in was THE place to go in South Omaha. We lost it when the new Hwy 75 was constructed.

My husband never forgets Rose Lodge for its chicken, the Brown Cow for its hamburgers & Evans Ice Cream for its "goop" sundaes.

We both miss the original King's & Bishop's cafeteria.

I've lived in Omaha all my life (60 years) & never heard of Comento's.

Wasn't Nasser's spelled Nasr's???

I remember Club 89 well - loved it! I remember when a patron, an off-duty policeman, was shot there. And yes, I do believe it burned down in the end.

Remember Wimpy's on 72nd, just south of Dodge? Nothing to write home about, but we had a large family (13 children) & I remember when our dad used to take us there & we could get 10 hamburgers for a buck. And we loved the sign with Wimpy from Popeye fame on it holding a stack of hamburgers. (probably 10 of them)

Gorat's is definitely the best steak house in town - LOVE it!!

Thank you for this trip down memory lane. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I had completely forgotten about Tiner's, but that was definitely a hot spot in its day.

Anonymous said...

How about the Italian Gardens? Louise Salerno ran a first rate restaurant. Great food and great ambiance.

And how did you forget the Cafe de Paris. That was real class.

Sharon said...

How about Ceasar's Garden. I think it was on 70th south of Pacific

Cruzin USA said...

I think the place, just south of 72nd and Dodge, you're referring to was Henry's Hamburgers. They had a place on 44th and Center, too.
One of my fondest memories, growing up in South Omaha was a hamburger joint on 28th and Q, called Toms. ANYBODY from that neighborhood would remmber Tom's and his famous loose meat burgers. Anyone remember the pizzas you could have delivered from Chik n burger, on 50th And L? Best pizza sauce I ever tasted. I actually delivered Pizza and chicken for them in the summer of '66 or '67.
One other place that comes to mind is the Slim Jim, on 24th and L. It was about 10' across, with 7' devoted to grill and counter space. Hamburgers there, were 5 cents. I remember my Dad taking the bus from 29th and Washington, where we lived, to South Omaha to get a sack and then taking the bus back. We either ate cold burgers, or heaven forbid, we had to warm them in the oven. No microwaves back then.

Cruzin USA said...

Oh yeah, another place I forgot was Netties. A Mexican restaraunt on Railroad Ave, south of Harrison. Been there at least 25 years I know of. And what about the fried chicken at Leisure Lanes? It ranked right up there with the Rose Lodge.

Sharon said...

There must be 2 Sharons because the Caesar's Garden post was not from me.
Anyway, I think the burger joint just south of 72nd & Dodge was originally Henry's, but it later changed to Wimpy's. It wasn't Wimpy's very long, though.

I grew up on 20th & Q, but don't remember a Tom's on 28th & Q and I don't remember Slim Jim's either. As I said before, I was from a large family, so we didn't go out to eat very often. I graduated from high school in '68, though so that seems to be about the same time as you were delivering pizzas & chicken for Chik n Burger on 50th And L. Oh, well...they say the mind is the first to go. (smile)

Anonymous said...

On West Maple, there was also a restaurant called The Tommahawk which I thought was a Caniglia restaurant. Also a restaurant called Jonesy's. On Dodge Street at about 44th +/- there was a restaurant called The Mediterranian. On 44th & Center Street, there was North's Chuckwagon Buffet and at 45th & Center there was Paltani's. On Leavenworth, there was the Riveria Club. Also during the early 60s there was two Mexican Restaurants on South 24th Street, the El Charro and Howard's El Charro. The first one was in the basement of a home and had delicious food. Howard's El Charro, is the one who operates out of the Marchio's building. It is still my Mexican restaurant of choice. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Anonymous, too

Anonymous said...

I browsed through pretty quickly, but didn't see any reference to the Fireside & Pirate's Den near 38th & Leavenworth. Great prime rib and fabulous buffet (all you can eat for $2.39) back in the early 70's. Excuse me if I missed it.

Alan said...

The Fireside Restaurant (with the Pirates Den in the lower level) on 38th and Leavenworth closed in 1975Before that it was the 11-Worth Grill and catered to hockey fans from the Omaha Knights.There was mention of the all you can eat buffet line...the cost of that was 95 cents for lunch and $ 1.25 for dinner. The prime rib lunch in the Pirates Den was $1.25
Dan and Ralph Cohen were the original owners. My name is Alan Cohen and Dan Cohen was my father.

Don V. said...

Does anybody remember the B&G Drive-In and Romanoff's near Varly drug store? Don't you wish that we could go back and eat at some of these places? It's a nice trip down memory lane checking out these old restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes Oddo's, and Fat Man's Hamburgers.

And Caniglia's on 7th. The best Lenten potato pizza on earth.

Louise Salerno's Italian Garden was where I learned the proper way to each spaghetti. I still use several of her recipes from my mid 70's Cabrini cookbook.

Anonymous said...

The greatest burger name, however is from Oddo's-- the Pookeesnackinburger. thanks for the nostalgia!! John

Rich B said...

Rich B Austin, Tx
I think the correct name of the restraunt in'Cruzin USA' comments on 24th and L was called 'Long and Slims'. We lived on 14th and M street and myself and my 2 brothers would walk up to 24th street to get yhe 5 cent hamburgers...Delicious! Even though I have now lioved in Texas for 40 years my favorite mexican food place is still Howard's El Charro. I actually taught the owners niece and nephew, who now run the place, when I was the P.E. instructor at St. Agnes Catholic school while attending the 'University of Omaha'. Also I rememver the precursor of the Bohemian Cafe (which I still Love and go to every time I'm in Omaha) was Chops Cafe...just a block east of the current Bohemian cafe. I remember running around the tables and sitting on Mrs. Chops lap while my parents dined there. Thanks for the many memories!

Anonymous said...

Love your Blog, brings back so many childhood memories. Can remember so many of those places and the great food in Omaha. I now live in SA TX and always manage to stuff myself when visiting by going to all my favorite places that still exist. What about Shoney's on 73/75 and Shakee's same area. Also Barnes famous drive with the foot long chili dogs and curly cue fries! Great food! I think they were on 10th street or in that area, maybe down from Chops Bowling Alley. Thanks for the memories!!

Steve G said...

How about Pizza Oven where lansky's is now located/ Run by the Kolar brothers. Old Vienna Cafe on 24th street. The waitresses were like having your grandma waiting on you

Marilyn Scheffler said...

I had forgotten about the Fireside and the 11worth grill. I grew up near 48th and Leavenworth and passed those places many times. I also was a HUGE hockey fan and always fantasized about going to the 11worth grill and seeing the players. Also went to Aksarben on Friday nights to skate and the Knights would have just finished practicing-----but I digress-----

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember The Mayflower? It was on Leavenworth before the Interstate ruined a good
Italian-Irish-Jewish neighborhood.
How about Italian Gardens? It was on the same spot which became a very pricy European restaurant on
south 6th by Mosquito Hill. I remember they had great fish dishes.

Sheri said...

Gotta jump in here! What about Kenny's Steak House on the corner of 72 and Dodge - now Borders. And Hollywood ice cream in beautiful downtown Benson and also Todds on about 75 and Dodge. Just a few more. I was also a Benson Bunny!

Sheri said...

Oh! And one more. My grandmother used to take me to the Blackstone for lunch when I was a child

Rich said...

I remember these restaurants while going to CE School of Commerce in 1959-1960: Benny Davis (just north of Harney at 17th), Dixon's (across from the Greyhound bus depot), the Garden Cafeteria (north side of Harney just east of 17th), the Club Cafe (on Douglas at about 14th), the Black Angus in the Conant Hotel, Woolworth's cafeteria (16th & Douglas), Kresge's cafeteria (16th & Harney), the Commodore Hotel restaurant (at 24th & Dodge), the Fontenelle Hotel's ballroom & banquet hall, and the Whip-a-Dip (at 24th & just north of Poppleton, predecessor to Frankie & Phyl's in the same building), and Beaton Drug's fountain counter.

King's had the best burgers and fries (at about 29th & Harney). You'd order by telephone from your booth. Don 'N' Millie's has similar tasting food nowadays.

Later, you could eat at Maxine's atop the Hilton Hotel at 16th & Dodge. Also, fondue was good at the Golden Apple, near 88th & W. Dodge. One could eat dinner at the New Tower (78th & Dodge) and the Prom Town House (70th & Dodge). Bombay Bicycle Club was at about 70th & Dodge, too, but in later years, I think.

Kaufmann's had the best (and most expensive) pastries in town (about 39th & Farnam).

Dixie Kitchen -- where was it? Also, where was the Blue Ox? And the Ground Cow? What was the restaurant on the southwest corner of 72nd & Pacific a few decades ago?

Marilyn Scheffler said...

There used to be a restaurant in the shopping center at 42nd and Center---upstairs in one of the buildings there. I have no idea the name of it but maybe someone else living in that area during the 50s and 60's might recall it.

Ron Circo said...

I know it is not a restaurant,but it was called Evans ice cream, right next to Jim Gentilles Barber shop located around 35th and center st.
I worked there when i was 14 yrs as a car hop and made .35 cents an hour plus tips.

Anonymous said...

Great to remember a lot of old favorites. My family and I love to eat at some of them when we visit Omaha. There was a Kings Food Host on 60th and Ames. Used to eat lunch at Northrup Jones and Bishop's Buffet, Angie's, etc. downtown. Got engaged at Lay's Arbor Inn............sure do miss a lot of the old places. Had my rehearsal dinner at Mr. C's. The chain restaurants just aren't the same!

Anonymous said...

Norm

I believe that Dixie Kitchen was in Benson on the Radial, became a hardware store. The orgiginal Ground Cow was about 73rd and Pacific, it moved a little west to a stand alone building and is now Fernando's Mexican. How about "Cliff's" next to the Golden Spike drive-in. I believe it became, Jack & Mary's in the Old Mil area and is now just North of Dodge on 114th.

Ronald said...

I believe the restaurant at the Center at 42nd and Center was the Cimmaron.

Ronald said...

The 64 club in east Council Bluffs was worth the trip from Omaha to Council Bluffs - I think it had a different number when the highway number changed.

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Yes-----that sounds right now that you said it!! Thanks!

Marilyn Scheffler said...

It was a great ice cream place-----I lived not too far away and went there frequently for their homestyle ice cream---I think that's what they called it. I remember watching them pack up the quarts of ice cream for those taking it home!

Marc Splittgerber said...

Hey Omababe.......I just tried to post a comment, and it disappeared. Think I hit the wrong key. Sorry if this goes through twice. I graduated from Westside in 1968. Knew lots of Benson Bunnies, both then and since. Several followup comments: 1. Fireside Inn... you are right on about Omaha Knights hockey. That's where they hung out. I played peewee hockey at Aksarben 1958 through 1964. Players I remember: Motto Maclean-considered by some to be the godfather of Omaha hockey; he and his wife sitll live in Omaha and recently had a home fire. Hope they are OK. Also played hockey with their son, Jeff. Other Omaha Knights players: Jimmie Jamieson, Chick Chalmers, Gordie Dryden (goalie), Jake Jablonski, whose wife was the premiere figure skating teacher at Aksarben. What a great league too--the St Paul Fighting Saints, Fort Wayne Comets, Muskegeon Mich. (name?)When my mother remarried in 1957 the reception was held at the Fireside, largely because it was the restaurant of choice of my grandparents. At the reception, my grandfather helped me pull my first molar. Afterwards I hit the buffet line again for some of their excellent prime rib.
2. Burgers--I have it on good authority that King's secret ingredient on their burgers was a combination of freshly ground peppercorns, mixed with Adolph's tenderizer; Is Stella's in Bellevue still open? Their burgers were/are fantastic; Anybody remember Dog 'n Suds (84th and Grover) and/or the A&W joints? Someone else blogged about the Nifty Bar. They were located very close to Benson High, on the south side of Radial, right after the bend to head west. Fantastic burgers!!
3. Evans Ice Cream - I can remember what a treat it was when my Mom would let me have a "clown sundae" (vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, salted cocktail peanuts, and whipped cream) instead of the usual Lime Sherbert cone. My first "barbershop" haircut in 1952 was at Jim's next door. That whole Field Club area has interesting history.
4. Rose's Lodge--Believe they went out of business when O'Daniel Olds bought their real estate for expansion. A sad day indeed.
5. Jack Holmes Ground Cow --They had menu that read somewhat like Oddo's. My favorite was the Dagwood (Blondieeeee!!!) They morphed into B-Piggs, a great night spot partially owned by Paul Ruebens.
6. Tiners - They were located on the south side of Dodge, just east of Radial Hwy. Think the real estate is owned by Mid-City Bank? Thing I remember was their iconic marquee sign. It was a curved panel, in the shape of an upsidedown and backwards J, with neon bars from bottom to top with an "eye" at the top. The sign would start with each neon bar coming on sequentially from bottom to top. When it hit the top the "eye" would go off like a super flash bulb.
7. Todds - Wasn't this owned by the Urosevich family? Believe their son Todd was whom it was named after. What a great place to hangout at on a Friday or Saturday night. Driving through and revving your engine to see who could make the most noise, laying down scratch, etc etc. Also going to Sandy's Escape in Benson to dance and listen to music. Wow!!
8. Other restaurants I wonder about: Surfside Club - A great place to eat chicken or catfish and watch the Missouri River go by; The Ah-Ree-Rang Club just north of Surfside; Pietro's on Center Street; The Turf Club over by Aksarben? Anybody have a fix on these?
Great site. Hope you continue it. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

Just a little up date Stella's in Bellvue still going strong and just as good.Anybody remember the Hayden House restaurants at the old train station. What ever happened to Skeet's bar-b-que?

Ron Kaipus said...

My uncle Irv Frodyma was the last independent owner of Evans Ice Cream before he sold out to Goodrich dairy. It was the only place you could get a Sundae, Malt or B split served in a glass container dish with a long spoon in your car! Irv also ran Odo's Drive-In and named most of the crazy sandwiches and hamburgers.

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Evans handpacked ice cream was to die for and I had forgotten about the glass containers! When I was young I loved the chocolate chip----it was fine little pieces of chocolate and it was so creamy and good!!!

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Does anyone remember the name of a small bakery near 50th and Leavenworth St.?? My mom used to go there all the time when company was coming. They had great pecan rolls.

Richard said...

Nobody has mentioned Angelo's which was last located at 72 & Pacific. Saw Frankie Laine there and I think they were located on the strip north of Ross's prior to Pacific. Saw the Mills Brothers there.

Anonymous said...

Great memories while reading all the posts! I was born in Omaha in 1939 and raised in North Omaha (Minne Lusa area.) I especially remember Marshall's hamburgers on 30th before Mr. C took over the space. I didn't see any mention of a great South Omaha place: Joe Tess' Fish. They changed locations on South 10th several years back. They had and still have the best fried fish I have ever tasted. In the 50s their fish sandwich only cost $.25! Now, it's more than 10-times that, but still great. Late at night when they were closing, you could go to the drive in window and buy a whole bag of fish for $1.00. Haven't lived in Omaha for more than 20 yesrs, but still have fond memories of all the places to eat. Thanks, everyone, for jogging the memory buttons. (Dave S.)

JohnnyTheCook said...

Curious that there was no mention of Johnny Hrupek's Cafe at 30th & L Streets. Johnny was the name behind the original Johnny's (sic Johnny's Cafe) and was a partner with Frank Kawa for years before they separated. Many of the stockyard businessmen and workers, farmers and ranchers, visited the restaurant over the years. And it was the place for professional wrestlers like Killer Kowlaski, Verne Gagne. Man Mountain Dean, et al during the days before WWF as well minor league baseball players like Don Blasingame when Omaha was a St. Louis farm team.

Rich said...

Here are other long gone restaurants that have come to mind, sometimes with the help of old friends: Black Forest Inn at 36th & Giles; Sidewalk Cafe in Regency Fashion Court (now just Regency Court); Winterset Inn on Hwy. 75 at Plattsmouth; Gallagher's just north of Pacific at about 108th; the Drawbridge near 130th & Arbor; Coco's at both 120th & L and near 88th & W. Dodge; the Commodore Hotel at 24th & Dodge; the Bluejay at 24th & Chicago; the Crystal Tree dining room in the New Tower at 78th & Dodge; Dixie Kitchen in the Beverly Hills Plaza at 78th & Dodge; Lyle DeMoss's restaurant (was it Lyle's Kitchen?) in Rockbrook; A-Ri-Rang in the Ponca Hills area; the Golden Apple near 88th & W. Dodge; the Surfside Club is still up north on the Mo. River; Alpine Inn is still operating in the Ponca Hills area; and the Pink Poodle, famed for prime rib, is still in Crescent, Iowa, as far as I know.

Was there a restaurant called Katelman's? How about Club Bellevue? Was there one called the Firepit? (not Fireside). What about Regency Inn? My memory seems to recall those names, but can't be sure.

Anonymous said...

A bit of historical correction.
The original El Charro Restaurant on So 13th St actually started as Howard's near 27th & O near the Stockyards viaduct.It then moved to South 24th St as Howard's El Charro and finally to the Marchio Bldg on So 13th St

Anonymous said...

Syd in Lincoln - I grew up on
Woolworth Ave and walked almost every night to Evans - the
"clown" sundae was chocolate ice cream with marshmellow sauce topped with vanilla ice cream with fudge sauce then peanuts - memorable.

Anonymous said...

Do any of you oldtimers remember the Grass Shack Cafe on 33rd. & California St? It was between Master Pastry Shoppe and Bogards Pharmacy?

Anonymous said...

The original name of the Cimmaron Room at the top of The Center, before the fire, was Al Green's Sky Room. They had outside rooftop dining.

Also, what about Mac's drive-in on about 50th. and Center? He had a 'Big Mac' hamburger long before Mcdonald's.

k0blt said...

Wasn't the hamberger place on 24th and L street in South Omaha called Long and Slims

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Left Omaha in mid 60"s. Still return every year. First stop LaCasa's Pizza like none other I have ever tasted. Bring some home to Calif every trip. Joe Tessa's second stop. Ate there on Friday nites in 50's. Like Dave S said the best fish served on rye bread from Adler's Bakery in 50-60's. Birthday's were celebrated at Old English Inn-great brownie ala mode. Jackie S

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Thank you-----I could NOT remember the name of the place at the Center. I'd forgotten the name Al Green's Sky Room.

Marilyn Scheffler said...

I grew up on Pierce Street and although it was a long walk my friends and I still did it---cut across Field Club area to get there. It was worth the walk.

Anonymous said...

Roses Lodge Open in Treynor, Iowa

james said...

There was a small shack in South Omaha called the Silver Pit BBQ. The ribs, chicken and links had mild, medium or hot sauces to stimulate heart burn. The proprietor's first name was Jasper. I nicknamed him "fire chief" because of his hot sauce. A medical school classmate and I would drive over occasionally for lunch. I was told the place burned down several years after I left Omaha..

Thomas J. said...

What about Domenico's, a place on 72nd st. north of Ross' that got blown away by the '75 tornado? The hypnotist, Dr. J.B. Zee was often the headlining entertainer there.

Clyde said...

Clyde/Corky
Boy do I remember Caniglias drive in. When I was 16 I had a motorcycle and every now and then I would pull in to Caniglias Drive in. When I did, a good number of those in cars pulled in their trays and rolled up the window. They new what was about to happen While I'm not proud of my behavior as a teenager, it just seemed like the thing to do. I simply took a hamburger or two off the tray of those that did not know my plight. In any event, I thank you for bringing my memories back to those days that were a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

I did not see any mention of the Gold Coast located in the Blackstone Hotel. I understand in the 40's and 50's this was the place to eat. A favorite of movies stars. In fact my mother was a waitress there in the early 50's. One evening John Wayne was there at the table next to the one she was serving. Never ate there but heard it was great. Doug.

Marilyn Scheffler said...

I embarrassed my parents at the Blackstone once when I ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I don't think they took me there after that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for remembering Reed's (you're right, Marilyn)homestyle ice cream. They also invented the sundae quarts (round quart of cream with a hole drilled in the center for syrup); the "sidewalk sundae," (a small box of cream topped with frozen topping with a little wooden spoon and napkin inside the lid); and the homestyle malt (served in a coke glass for 5 cents during the depression; it was the precurser to Wend's Frosty). (I'm really going way back here.)

Reed's didn't "become" Whirla-Whip; Whirla-Whip was invented (by my father, Claude Reed) in the 30's and developed into a chain of drive-in's during the 40's and 50's. There is still a Reed's manufacturing plant in Des Moines, suppling commercial accounts. Claude passed away 7/11/08, and Dorothy on 5/15/09; both were 98.

Also, thanks for remembering Marshall's. Just burger, mustard and pickles, but unbelievably good!

Hello to all North High Vikings from Patti Reed.

Patti Reed

Marilyn Scheffler said...

Weren't Reeds ice cream cones those cylinder shaped things with a paper around the top of it that you had to take off?

Sharon said...

The owner of Rose Lodge opened "The Rose" on Main St in Treynor, IA - just outside Council Bluffs to the east. My husband & I just ate there this past weekend - thanks to this blog jogging our memories! (smile)

Goldberg's is a bar & grill sill operating at 132nd & Center...great hamburgers!!!

Also, Club 64 (not Club 64) in Council Bluffs was owned by the same guy who owned Club 89 in Omaha...both great steak houses. Club 89 burned down & never re-opened. Owner just kept the 64 Club open & I don't believe that one is open anymore, either.

Anonymous said...

Re: Goldburgs. Weren't they preceded by Chicagos, on south side of Farnum at about 33rd. Am thinking there burgers were either from same recipe or owner?

Also in that neighborhood. Circo's had decent food as I remember.

Anonymous said...

There were some great places but what about other restaurants that were there forever but now are gone. Bonanza,Eddies(still their for catering)5oth L on the Corner their sat a steakhouse restaurant Little Willies my grandpa and I would go there and eat all the time. Thanks for the Memories....

Marie said...

Thank you all for the wonderful memories. Food is the way to connect good times with family or friends. My cousins owned Ross's steakhouse, my uncle owned the Mediterranean, only after he had managed the Blackstone and the Town House on 69th and Dodge. That was blown away in the tornado. It is very important to support family owned and operated restaurants even now. You can help create memories too for your family that they can reflect back with the same warm good feelings you are all having. The food was not always the best at all of the places, all of the time, but being together sharing the experience was. The owners were usually around to talk to, and that gave you a good feeling as well. We have a family owned and operated Italian restaurant in Omaha for eighteen years now, and we can only hope to be remembered for the good memories, and hopefully the good food too.

Anonymous said...

THE BEST STEAK IN OMAHA,

WHISKEY FILET

TRY IT YOU WILL BELIEVE IT IS WITHOUT A DOUBT

Anonymous said...

THE BEST STEAK IN OMAHA,

WHISKEY FILET

TRY IT YOU WILL BELIEVE IT IS WITHOUT A DOUBT

Scottie G. said...

Piccolo's is still there on 20 St. just north of Martha. That was my first real job as a busboy...many moons ago! Still in the same family, although Tony Sr. has passed and his son Tony Jr. retired. STILL the best food in my opinion. I try to drive down there every-so-often. Club 89 went out of business after the shootings inside back in the late 70's or early 80's. My parents loved that place.

Anonymous said...

Grew up in "South O" in the 50's & 60's....still remember the Mr. Softy Ice Cream truck comming around the neighborhood on Summer evenings...Tiner's Diner "Hungry Diners Eat at Tiner's for Dinners that are Winners!" Still remember walking to the little cafe in the back of the "Roseland" on 24th across from "Phillips" Dept. store (had a full grocery store in the basement) My friends and I were regulars on Fridays & Saturdays at Sandy's Escape and out to "Merritts Beach" on weekends to dance to KIOL dee jays in the sand and rent surf-boards...why? Best time to be a teenager,ever! Met kids from all over the area! Nanjoj

Gary said...

And another to add to the list....Kenny's Restaurant at the heart of Omaha on 72nd and Dodge. They consistently delivered some of the best food in the city until they sold (it's now a bookstore....like we needed another bookstore).

P.E. Papa said...

Boy did that bring memories, I grew up on 7th & Pierce, right next to Caniglia's on 7th St.My Mom is a Caniglia & we loved having pizza there 2 or 3 times a week sitting at that little tiny bar. I worked at the Palazzo Italian when I was 16yrs, a hat check girl, when people wore hats..
Thanks Little Louie for you blog. Patti Incontro Johnson (Kenny's sister)

Anonymous said...

Back in the '60s, there were two drive ins on Saddle Creek. One was at dodge, and the other on Cuming. I can't remember for sure but one of them was Oddo's.
You have mention Petrow's at least. That grew from an extremely small drive-in to a very good sit-down diner.
The '60s were the years when the Smorgasbords exploded. I don't think you could go anywhere without being within walking distance of one.

cannon said...

No one mentioned "King Fongs" it is still in business. It could be the oldest eatery in town. I took a school mom there for dinner in 1945

Anonymous said...

What about KB's on 30th and Cumming, right east of Omaha Tech High School. It was THE place to be after football and basketball games, not just for Techsters, but the boys from Prep and all the ladies from the girls' schools. All the booths would be over-filled, with marshmallow cherry cokes and French fries crowding the table tops. The posts in the room were covered with photos of the reigning athletes from all the high schools and some of the Creighton college boys too. It was the "Arnolds" of our "Happy Days" in the 1950-60's. Then the interchange took everything in that part of town. I'm surprised KB's hasn't made the list.

BJReinhard said...

I think the Dixie Kitchen was in a strip mall on the north side of Dodge somewhere between 72 & 84 St. We have a Dixie Cafe in AR and I have a hard time not calling it the Dixie Kitchen, although food is not the same as the good old time fare.

Caryl and Scott said...

SNC - You can't forget Big Fred's, Great pizza!

Anonymous said...

Yeah....and how about Sortino's on the SE corner of 72nd and Pacific??? I even waited out a blizzard one January evening in there!!

Mary G said...

Is LaSolo Mio (sp) still on leavenworth?
I was born and raised in South O and now live in Colorado. Was just saying today I wish I could find a good steakhouse here like we had in Omaha. I really miss the beef.

Maria said...

Holy Cow...I have lived in Omaha for many years and I thought I knew all the restaurants in town.

The home that I live in now was once owned by one of the Ross family and we found lots and lots of the family memorabilia in our crawl space. It was pretty interesting....

Anonymous said...

IN THE EARLY FIFTIES AT 16 AND WEBSTER WAS BUD AND HAZEL"S CAFE. BUD SAT ON HIS REAR AND BARKED ORDERS WHILE HAZEL WORKED HERS OFF IN THE KITCHEN. WAITRESSES WERE BESS AND FERN. MY FAVORITE WAS ON FRIDAYS, THE MAC AND CHEESE LUNCH CAME WITH MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY, VEGTABLE, ROLL AND COFFE FOR FIFTY FIVE CENTS.
BILL HOFF

Anonymous said...

Great list...some are still around..Sortinos on 78th and L...Big Freds on 119th and Pacific....Hey Makt Splitgerber, are you related to Paul Splitgerber? I worked as a busboy at Lay's with him...Allan Lindsay

Anonymous said...

Chicken Delight delivered ....great fried chicken & bbq ribs
Minne Lusa Inn had good food too.
And how many of you remember Travatos? mmmmmm

Marc S said...

Allan L....yep, Paul is my bro. Both he and I worked at Lay's Arbor Inn. My first job in the mid 60's, for a whopping 50 cents an hour. Some real characters at that restaurant. Bob Reeves, Richard Holcomb, Freddy Damper, Joanne the salad lady, Jay Washington, Jim Morrison. One night Doc Severinsen (Tonight Show orchestra) and his entourage ate there. He autographed a menu for me that I have in a box somewhere in my attic. Mrs. Lay passed away in Minnesota last November. Her daughter (Julie) married another one of the busboys that worked there about the same time I did. Great place to work, and fantastic food.

Anonymous said...

re: Fireside, son of Dan Cohan former owner of Fireside .....Alan Cohan are you the writer "Alan Cohan"? if so, great books, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I probably missed it as I scrolled through but didn't see the Bohemian or the Hilltop House...

Anonymous said...

Just read the blogs, a friend passed them along. Have to mention Cliff's on on West Dodge, best chicken in the world. This was the forerunner of Jack & Mary's.

Anonymous said...

Grew up in Omaha and was a North High Viking, but haven't lived there for many years. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Mr. C's was a big hangout for us "North" kids. Also fondly remember many of the great steak houses, Bohemian Cafe, and Kings. Ordering from a phone at your booth....wow....wish they'd bring that back!! Cheese frenchee's.....yum!!!
Will be back in Omaha in Oct. for a reunion and will definitely stop at a couple of the places that have survived the years!!

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about a Steak House the other day in the Florence area called "Red & Ted's. I remember the chicken fried steak and onion rings they had there. The location is now a Walgreen's.

Anonymous said...

anonymous remembers; there was a diner at 29 and dodge street where burger king is, anyone remember the name of it? also a late night favorite was Ambassador Cafe 25ave and Farman.

Anonymous said...

Harkert House

Anonymous said...

Memory Lane - what a trip - thanks.

Tiners drive-in for yard long fries, Goodrich for shakes & Johny's for steaks.

Anybody remember the Garden Cafe near city hall. It was an English basement, half below grade, and a virtual jungle of greenery.

Dixon's Restaurant with the top hat and "walking cane" neon sign is fused in my brain.

Forgotten the name of the Blackstone Hotel restaurant.

----Dale

Sharon said...

Yes, Garden Cafe is still in operation at Rockbrook on 108th & W Center Rd...far southwest corner...LOVE it!! That downtown location was awesome, though!

captainnapkin said...

This is a WONDERFUL compendium on Omaha's culinary heritage. I have lived in this city 50 years and have memories of many of these restaurants. Thanks so very much for putting this together!

TommyK said...

Dont forget Big Joe's down on RR Ave. Moved there from an ice cream store at 37th & Q. They had GREAT fish sandwiches and big mugs of Root Beer.

By the way, it was the Muskegon Zephyrs.

Chuck said...

I can't believe that no one has mentioned the damage caused by the big tornado that went up 72nd street, which destroyed much of the strip!

Tom Hunter said...

Wonderful post! Having grown up in Omaha and now living in Brooklyn, NY, I enjoyed this immensely. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Thanks for all the work. Next time you might include Harry's. Great food and Harry was a great guy.

Mal Adams said...

Nostalgic review. Thanks for preserving the legacy in this way. Lyle from KBON...was that the Lyle that did Big Red Football games? I wonder. There were more than a few great restaurants on the Near North Side that did not make the list. Many of them served a delicious Steak, too, among other fine cuisine. There was Carters Cafe and the Fair Deal, both on 24th Street near Lake St. Few customers outside of the Black community frequented these places so they were not too widely known by other than local folks, but they were landmark establishments nonetheless. Does anybody remember them? I grew up in North Omaha and worked as a TV News Reporter/Anchor at KETV with Lee Terry, Mike May, and Mike Murphy. This blog brought back many memories. Thanks for posting it.
Mal in Japan.

bob nogg said...

CLIFFS Chicken, Trentinos,Golden Spur in the Blackstone Hotel,Trovatos on Underwood Ave,Sodas at Cris Rexall and Ringle's
Hamilton Pharmacy and if you are really old, Fuffs(sp)Deli on 24th Farnam next to Hotel Delmonico..also a short lived Kosher Restaurant on 40th and Dodge.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Omaha for over 80 years and never heard of Comento's. Now, I am a bit surprised. What may be the oldest restaurant still operating is never mentioned. For many years the only Chinese Restaurant in town, King Fong is still as campy and as good as it was 90 years ago on the east side of 16th St. between Farnam and Harney. Still busy at noon and when there are performances at the Orpheum.

Lana said...

Thank you for the memories. As Omaha grows so much of the past seems forgotten. I see mention of Harrys Pub. Was that on 16th in the old Red Lion? I believe the piano man was my dad, John Cole. He also played many of the lounges like at the Venice Inn. I have a few enternaiment magaznines from the late 60's early 70's. They are fun to look at.

Judy said...

Does anyone remeber the name of the steak houaw located om 84th street just south of Harrison one the west side of the street? It might have been used as a church for a time.

Rememner Eddie's in So Omaha...ad Travelers!

Omababe said...

>Does anyone remeber the name of the
>steak houaw located om 84th street
>just south of Harrison one the west
>side of the street? It might have
>been used as a church for a time.

Yes, this was Mr. Kelly's (Kelley's?) and it was open when I moved here, closed maybe in 1980-something.

IIRC, it re-opened briefly as something else, then closed. Last time I remember driving by, it was for lease I think.

Omababe said...

>Lyle from KBON...was that the Lyle
>that did Big Red Football games?

No, you're thinking of Lyell Bremser who did the play by play for years. "Man, Woman, and Child!" :)

>and worked as a TV News Reporter /
>Anchor at KETV with Lee Terry,
>Mike May, and Mike Murphy.

I take it then that you read Ted's blog too? :) Or do you want to? :)

Marilyn Scheffler said...

"And Holy Moly" (Lyle Bremser)!!

rgsrobertg said...

Wow! What great old memories. This is for the North High grads who cruised 30th Street in the 50's and 60's. Does anyone remember the man who pushed a tamalie cart? He dressed in white and walked with a stiff leg. You could drive up to him and buy a tamalie and not even get out of your car. Boy were they hot.

Larry said...

Ok, I'm hooked . . . let me add my two cents worth . . . Jack Holmes Ground Cow was mentioned (great ribs AND hamburgers), but remember his original restaurant on about 50th & Center? (mainly a steakhouse but had great hamburgers then, too). And while we're on Center Street, how about a chicken place a few blocks east called the Rome (or was it Roam?) Inn? The original restaurants in the Blackstone Hotel were the Orleans Room off the lobby, the only 5-star restaurant in the area, The Plush Horse Room downstairs which had a buffet appetizer table, I believe, on Sundays which featured all the cold shrimp you wanted, and the coffee shop, both of which were morphed into the Golden Spur. And who can forget the A-Ri-Rang Club in all of its various stages. I'm going now to look in the mirror for all the others that are on the tip of my tongue . . . will report back.
Larry

Anonymous said...

This blog was awesome to read through. KINGS comes to mind we went there at least once a week, you placed your order from phones at your table. VENICE INN is still my favorite restaurant in town, mostly because I have such fond memories from going there as a little girl with my parents, they were both avid steakhouse eaters and I bet we dined at every one of these places mentioned.

Anonymous said...

For all the Omaha nostalgia, you bloggers will love this, check out ebay, a seller has the old "Vintage Richman Gordman playground animals for sale" Anyone remember the giant blue elephant slide, a camel, a hippo and a yellow kangaroo? The seller commented he got back 1000s of comments from people who remember these play animals in the RG stores. The elephant sold for $1700, I think some of the others are still in auction, type in Vintage Richman Gordman if you want to see pics. They also brought back many great memories, to me an everyone who saw them. Someone suggested they should donate them to the Childrens Museum, that would have been nice. Thanks!

Marilyn Scheffler said...

That Richman Gordman blog really brought back memories. I lived in Lincoln and there was a great store on O street I think. My son, who was about 18mos. old at the time, stripped his clothes off and had a wonderful time playing there. His older sister came to me completely mortified! That same child also fell off of something there and got a big knot on his head!---Ah yes, the memories.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love this page! I wonder if anyone has a picture of the "Long and Slims" on 24th and L from way back when? A friend of mine has been hunting forever, so a scan of it would be much appreciated if anyone has one!
My email is imnebulous1@yahoo.com!

Tom B said...

Some additional info on mentioned restaurants -

Mister C's - Their famous mural is on display at the Durham Museum (behind the street car).

Kings - Cheese Frenchees are available at a number of places around Omaha. Don & Millies and Grandmother's were started by the former Kings owners and the Freenchee is just as good. Some other places offering Cheese Frenchees are Mama's Pizza, Millard Roadhouse and Farm House Cafe. Love 'em!

Nifty's - Still going at the same location.

William J Reynolds said...

This is great--thanks for putting it together. Many of these spots are beloved memories of my childhood in Omaha in the early 1960s...especially Cascio's, which is just down the street from my mother's childhood home at 8th and Hickory. We ate there a lot, and I still try to visit whenever I am back in town.

However...I seem to recall that when I was at Creighton in the late 1970s, the original building burned down and that the current one is a complete rebuild. That sound right?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Good God, does this bring it back! I grew up in Omaha in the 60s & 70s. Tiners...the Village Inn on Radial & Dodge...La Casa...Bronco's on Leavenworth...the Ground Cow...Martin's Bakery on 40th & Hamilton...fountain counters at Phil's Drugstore at 50th & Hamilton & Chris' at 50th & Dodge...my folks also liked that "Here's Johnny" place across the street from the Rose Bowl.

Anonymous said...

The Rose Bowl on 72nd. Paltani's on center, the Chicago bar! WOw
Cascios, venice inn, The short stop, Awesome memories! Great Food!

Anonymous said...

I meant the Ranch Bowl on 72nd!

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember the drawbridge restaurant ...I wish that was still around, luv to take my kids to that place. Great exxperinces as a child.

Anonymous said...

The old Grass Shack moved to 73 and Blondo and I remember the decor including a whale in the 1960's. Anybody else remember it?

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad to see so many great mom and pop places gone. Like many of you looking back, I'm thinking of family memories while reading this great article and added comments. Love the old advertisements for the restaurants you added too.

There are way to many franchise places now and in my opinion they can't compare to the good family owned restaurants now long gone. It is nice to see many quality places still remain. Thanks for the memories. Best wishes to all reading this.

Anonymous said...

As a North High & Minne Lusa student in the 50's, I am happy to see all the local places featured here, especially photos of the interior & palazzo of Mr C's on 30th & Fort. It was so sad when they closed in 2007. Now we go to Venice Inn for similar great food. Great memories of Rose Lodge & many others lost forever.
I will try to follow up & go to as many of the places you listed as I can this year.
Thank You for this Blog. --Bon Appetit

Peggy Ryan said...

Thanks for the blog. It is great to remember all the old restaurants that have gone. I grew up in North Omaha and remember Mr C's drive-in. I also remember Minne Lusa Tavern or someone called it Reds and Teds. They had the best onion rings. We used to go to KIngs on 60th and Ames and the A&W drive-in that was at Ames and Fontenelle Blvd. And one of my fondest family memories was driving all the way to Irvington for ice cream.

rgsrobertg said...

Hey Peggy. It sounds like I went to all the same places as you did. I even dated a girl who cut the onions at Red and Ted's. Bob Sanderhoff

Fred said...

Fred Ferguson
The Grass Shack Became Mt. Fuji. It is still operated by the same family. The mother Alice,passed away last year at the age of 93. It is one of my favorite restaurants.

Rose's Lodge was a victim of a fire, and yes you can get the same chicken in Trayner along with Pink Poodle's prime rib. The owner cooked at both places.

Fred said...

The steak house south of Harrison, was Kelly's, I believe.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather Ray Borkenhagen managed two restaurants in Omaha, Northrup Jones and The Old English Inn. Can anyone tell me a little about them?

Christine said...

When I first moved to the Gerald Ford Birthsite area, I used to go to Salvatores which is now a QuikTrip on Leavenworth! They were always a class act and we used to get sung to. I loved Bishops at the Westroads, the chocolate pie and the little light on the table for when you needed the waitress! As a teenager I worked at the old Woolworth's cafeteria downtown. And many teenage nights were spent at King's Food Host!

Anonymous said...

Can't forget Petrow's at 59th and Center St. Nick Petrow salvaged the Caniglia sign from the restaurant on 7th Street, restored it, an mounted it on the north side of his restaurant. All the Caniglia family was there for the ceremonial lighting. It is beautiful. Thanks, Nick. You saved an important part of Omaha restaurant history.

John Mazur, Omaha

Anonymous said...

Great blog...

I remember getting to pick out a gift from the treasure chest when you left Dixie Kitchen. That chest was full of little toys that I wanted when I was a kid.

I also remember the Al Caniglia's Drawing Room. The food was great, the salad bar and salad dressings were unbelievable and Al would whistle by breathing in air, instead of blowing out air, to let his waitresses know that their order was up. Also loved all the caricatures on the wall - that was the reason behind calling the restaurant "The Drawing Room", I believe.

Anonymous said...

I loved all the old Italian steakhouses. Did you know that Omaha has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the US? Also, I heard it was the Blackstone Hotel that invented the reuben. Regardless who it was, go Omaha! Does anyone remember New Tower Inn on 78? & Dodge with the swanky piano lounge?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just posted about New Tower Inn & then I saw the post above me! I worked for Al Caniglia at the Drawing Room back in the 70's. Ha, we wore red turtlenecks, bibed hot pants and black boots. We would get packed after a Nebraska game. Go Huskers! lol.

Anonymous said...

The Blackstone Hotel DID invent the reuben sandwich----at least the whole time I lived in Omaha (30 yrs) that's what we were told!! I am a transplanted Nebraskan in Houston and love to read about all the places that people are mentioning on this site. I went to Central and after dances and ball games we would go down to 7th and Pierce street (or near there) to eat pizza or steak sometimes. I lived near Evan's Ice Cream shop on Center street and sometimes would walk there from home to get ice cream.
Sometimes, on the way to visit my grandmother where Papillion is today, we would stop and get ice cream at a place called Reeds---and the ice cream was in a shape like a toilet paper roll with paper wrapped around it and then put into a cone. cylindrical shape I guess.

southsideboy said...

What a great blog!!!!! Reading it has brought back so many wonderful memories of various eateries that have since gone their way.

A couple of favorite's of mine were Long and Slims, world's best burgers(only a nickle apeace), and Big Joe's Drive In. can't forget Joe Tess Fish sandwiches, they are the bomb!!!

Thanks for the memories!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just for the heck of it I googled Tiner's Drive-Inn and found your blog. I flipped burgers there in '60 or '61 on weekends while stationed at Offutt. The burgers were 15 cents and the fries were terrific. Can't remember if they were curly at that time. It's been awhile.
Worked for a very short time at Oddo's in '62. Less that terrific. Mecelli's (SP?), next to the Farnham Lane's downtown served a small bowl of spaghetti for 50 cents. none of this kept me from moving back to the west coast where I've remained.

VinceE said...

The Gas Lamp restaurant at 30th & Leavenworth Streets was mentioned. Previous to that I believe it was called Hanson's. A very nice restaurant.

Across the street to the south was a drive-in called Barnse's. A good drive-in sort of like A&W but a little better.

Another very good restaurant in the area, northeast corner of Leavenworth and Park Ave was called, I think, The Mayflower.

The Sharon Grill was across Leavenworth Street to the south.

Cantoni's was down the street but I never had the chance to go there.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Todds drive-in on west dodge street,
the place to meet girls in the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the name of the 50's style diner on Dodge at or near 49th and Dodge.

Susan Boege said...

I am 60 and grew up in Omaha and lived there until 10 years ago. I was looking at an old scrapbook from 1981-84 and saw the name of two restaurants I could not remember. One was called the Great American Disaster where I ate steaks and all the fixins for $10 per couple. The other was Robin Hoods. Does anyone remember these and where they were?

A comment on one of the other posts. The original name of the Mt. Fuji Inn on 72nd and Blondo was Porpoise Palace. I went there as lived nearby and girls dressed as mermaids would swim with the dolphins which you could see beneath the glass floors of the dining area. It was really cool to watch in the 60's.

Needless to say I loved the blog, brought back so many memories. Sandy's escape, Drawbridge(at one time called Varities), Kaufman's bakery(I worked there in high school),King Fongs,Brandeis cafeterias(as a small child went there with my grandma daily)Merritt's Beach,Cafe De Paris,Goodrich Dairy, Royal Dairy etc.

I have not had that much pleasure recalling the past ever. By the way, Steve's in Benson is still open but now called Leo's Diner. I took an old friend there Summer 2011 and we took pics.. same old Steve's down to jukeboxes on the tables.

Unknown said...

I used to love to go to downtown Omaha to go to the Brandeis cafeteria as well! My mom and I would take the bus from home---think we even had to change buses---to get there. My favorite items to have there were chocolate malts, mashed potatoes and iced tea! Thanks for bringing up that memory! Marilyn Scheffler

Susan Boege said...

Yes Marilyn, Brandeis was one of my favorite childhood memories as well. The ladies that ran the cafeteria knew me so well that they automatically dished up my usual favorites: mashed potatoes, vanilla ice cream and chocolate milk(yummy to a child's palate) and always greeted me by my first name.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I read sooo many posts. Did anyone mention Bronco's across 30th street from Mr. C's? The Dundee Dell? The Virginia Dare Cafe downtown?

For my money, Casio's (sp?) in south O was the most consistent GREAT STEAK you'd ever find anywhere. But there were so many great steak houses. Living in St. Louis with lots of Italian restaurants on "The Hil" - I still crave Casio's, Ross's, Sparetime and Johney's!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Parkvale Bakery on 30th "T". The glaze donuts were to die for.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! So many comments!! I remember the dances at Peony Park sponsored by students and parents from Benson, Westside and Central. Following the dances we went to such places as the Colony Club, the restaurant side, the Hayden House, and the Blackstone. I had my first alcoholic drink there provided by my sorority sisters. My mother also waited up for me to return from dates so she could have cold pizza from Little Frank's or Caniglia's. Lot's of good memories. Thanks

ginny said...

Does anyone remember the Sharon Grill near Park Ave and Leavenworth. Good memories there.
We get the Omaha paper and read where Mr. Shada died. He had the drive in on Saddle Creek. We read that Shada's had the first speakers for ordering.
Our family had Chop's Cafe on 13th St for 50 years. We closed it in the 70's and moved to Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

I may have missed it but didn't notice a mention of the Short Stop just No of L. Great Chicken. Became a Mexican Restaurant for awhile and now is a used car lot.

Anonymous said...

How about Beals cafe on 24th and Ca st. Old Creighton Prep & Creighton U students were Beal's main coustomers.

Anonymous said...

THE BEST PLACE TO SHOW OFF YOUR CAR WAS TODD'S DIVE IN ON ABOUT 78TH & DODGE. IT WAS POPULAR IN THE SIXTIES. HAD A 55 CHEVY CONVERTIBILE TO DIE FOR. GOLDEN SPUR AT THE BLACKSTONE WAS KNOW FOR THEIR RUBENS. KING FON'S DOWNTOWN WAS THE BEST CHINESE.

ROD

Anonymous said...

kshinee orelyiRoss' steak house! Now that was absolutely the premier steakhouse in Omaha. When I was young, my dad would take us there monthly (we had to quit going weekly as he insisted on paying and we were broke, and guilt overwhelmed appetite!). He had a tab!! Wow. To this day I've never had a better NY Strip than any of the 40 or so I had in that place.

The thing that a lot of people fail to recognize is that most of those independent steakhouses would get into bidding wars over blue ribbon winners from Nebraska State Fair. They would hang the blanket/banners inside the restaurant, and serve the meat from their regular menu. All of those listed that I can remember had at least a banner or two hanging...Ross' and Anthony's seemed to have the most.

LaCasa had the fine rectangular pizza with the ramano cheese. Awesome!

Goodrich put me in the hospital with their Santa Shakes. Peppermint Stick Ice Cream and Egg Nog. I still have not found a better tasting shake either. I'd get one on the way home from work every day during the season. Ended up sick after about 6 weeks. LOL.

We still talk about "The Homey Inn Chili Dog Flu", lmao!

Don in Florida

Anonymous said...

WE YOUNG STUDENT NURSES AT ST. CATHERINES, AT 8TH AND HICKORY, WOULD WALK ACROSS THE STREET TO TRENTINOS..BEST STEAKS IN TOWN. OR LATE ON SATURDAY NIGHTS, AFTER A PARTY WOULD END UP IN DOWNTOWN OMAHA AT THE VIRGINIA CAFE. FUN TIMES, A MILLION PLACES TO GO!

Anonymous said...

I spent over an hour reading this whole blog and the comments and either I missed it, or noone even mentioned "The Quickie" on 24th & Leavenworth. They had THE BEST loose meat hamburger EVER, and noone can come close to duplicating the taste! My buddy and I used to walk miles just to get a few!

Anonymous said...

Great memories. I haven't been in Omaha since the mid-80's and must admit, I read every word of this blog. Two that came to mind, although chains, were The Rusty Scupper near Regency and the all-you-can eat seafood place that I believe was on 72nd. Sorry to hear that Brother Sebastians, Big Freds and Gallagher's are gone. Jack and Mary's had the best fried chicken. Is Harr's in Elkhorn still open? Still good? I live near San Francisco and have not had a good prime rib since leaving Omaha.

Peggi said...

So many tasty memories! My first job was at the Palazzo 'Taliano as a coffee girl. My mom worked for the Caniglia family for many years and we both worked for Dick Glasford at the Club 89. Just recently, I have been able to reconnect with several of the caniglia's and Dick Glasford through Facebook. So many wonderful meals served and wonderful employees that cared about the service in these restaurants. Thank you for providing this "walk down memory lane!" Great steaks...great pasta dishes and service with a smile!

Rosemary Lee said...

My dad owned Tiner's Drive In and if you can find any old photo's I'd love to see them! I love your blog and I'm so glad I found it! The family moved from Omaha in 63 to Las Vegas but I remember it well. I grew up by Memorial Park....Omaha is a wonderful city!!!

Rosemary Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Martens said...

The site at 10th and Pacific Streets where Angie's and then Lucky's were located was recently purchased and the building torn down. It will the new home of the Blue Barn Theatre!

Debi The Face Painter said...

I'm from the Florence Area of Omaha and remember Andersen's Dairy in the 60's. My mom used to go there to buy milk in glass jugs and on our trips I would beg for one of their Vanilla Ice Cream Cones. I still remember the taste and texture. Not too sweet and the texture was sandy on the tongue from the ice crystals. I think it was a confection of mostly ice milk and some cream. What I would do to go back for one more cone! Anderson's went out of business sometime in the late 60's or 70's. Does anyone else remember Anderson's Diary? Debi

Anonymous said...

what fun it's been reading this and the memories that came back. I worked at Anthony's, the best steaks. also wprked at Bronco's, loved the pork tenderloins, and who can forget saddlecreeks footlongs with chili. Goodrich malts, leisure lanes chiken. I sure miss Omaha it's been too many years since I went back home. thanks for all the memories.

Susan said...

Just an update to a comment from anonymous who moved away from Omaha in the 80's, Big Freds and Brother Sebastians' are still open as I just visited Omaha over Labor Day Weekend. Omaha continues to thrive with more tasty eateries than any other place I know.

Anonymous said...

Loveland Shopping center -- 90th & Arbor Lay's Inn (?) prior to Senor Matia's.
Satan's Pizza in the Old Market
House of Pies (90th & Center)
Steak & Ale (72nd & by the Ranch Bowl)

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid in the late 50s and 60s, we'd drive to Omaha from Lincoln and have Sunday dinner at the Virginia Cafe downtown. Boy did I think I was in the big time. In fact, it was very nice although there were many better restaurants. Still, I can remember when it burned down about 1969. How disappointed I was.

Anonymous said...

Met my wife Judy, a waitress at Walgreens in the Crossroads Shopping Center in the 60's. I'd help her fill catsup bottles while waiting for her to get off work. You could see the layers!! Then we'd go to Todds for greasy tacos, or the Ambassador for a late breakfast. Sometimes we'd go dancing at the Cellar on 16th St. across from Bekins. After we were married we would frequently meet for lunch at the Prague Hotel, just north of the Bohemian Cafe. They had this fabulous hot turkey and ham plate, covered with fries and cheese sauce. OMG. And the Castle Hotel had something similar. My wife's friend was the chef at the Ranch Bowl on S. 72nd, so we went there a lot. We still go to B&G's, Broncos whose pork tenders are the best in this or any other universe! Another of our friends worked as a waitress at Mr. C's, we called her Potsie. Loved the lights and murals!! Thank you for a bunch of wonderful memories!! Oh, and once I went to Todds with my buddies. The guy driving had a blown 56 buick, and he had taken the interior out of it and drilled holes everywhere to make it "lighter". Seats were those cheap orange plastic things you used to see around. He had to squirt raw gas into the car to get it started. What a DEATHTRAP!! It was great growing up in Omaha. Surfside Club is gone now, due to the flooding a while back. Oh well, there's still Joe Tess's place - I worked with his nephew, Bill Teschnolidek (sp). Great guy.

Anonymous said...

I may have missed it, but I didn't see any reference to a Caniglia restaurant that is still open. The Levenworth cafe is operated by one of the next generation of Caniglias. I was raised in north O, moved away and came back to raise a family. I remember all the old places and pretty much ate at most of them. Our group "discovered" LaCasa's in 1958 after one of our Saturday night poker games. It's still the best pizza in town. As for best steak's now, my vote would have to go to the Drover.

Goodtime

Anonymous said...

There used to be an old A&W drive-in around 49th and Center Street that served KFC. I remember picking up a bucket of chicken, mashed potatoes, their "gooey" gravy and a gallon of A&W root beer after mowing grass at my grandmother's house back in the 1960s. I think Kubat's Pharmacy is there now.

Anonymous said...

Kings Restaurant--72nd and Cass, with Topper hamburgers and cheese frenchies and the best onion rings. Yum!! Bishops Buffet, lime jello with fresh grapefruit, big slice of lettuce wedge topped with blue cheese. Also Hilltop Cafe, with a basket of home made cinnamon rolls and other goodies.
I miss all of these.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Wooden Platter in Millard, Another example of the owners not feeling they had to pay taxes and the IRS shut them down. Millard ave and P st. Addy's sports bar is there now.

Anonymous said...

Paltani's on 44th and Center. Awesome Taco's!! Very similar to what Senor Matias was serving before they closed up.

Anonymous said...

I am a former Bunny too...was your maiden name Dinkel by any chance cz I've been looking for you! Suzanne Davis 1129tinkerbell@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am a former Bunny also...my step-dad was bartender at the old Town House on 70th and Dodge, also at Ross' Steak House and The Gas Lamp. I was coat/hat check girl at the Gas Lamp. We were friends with the Firmatures and I had a crush on Ernie and Bettys son Steve! Been living in the Phoenix area for a long time and when I go back can't find a good place anymore to have a steak. Miss all the old places. Miss Todd's Druve-In on Dodge too..used to go on dates and we'd cruise through there! Suzanne "Susie" Davis.
1129tinkerbell@gmail.com











Anonymous said...

Hi I'm a former Bunny ...thanks for mentioning Sandys Escape but what was the one on about 62nd and Ames..upstairs? Suzanne Davis living in Phoenix area 1129tinkerbell@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

My mom and step-dad worked as bartender and cocktail waitress at the Town House. Jerry and Linda Lucas. I found old pictures the other day. He also was bartender at Ross'then went to the Gas Lamp. Those were the days...great food, great families. We were friends with the Firmatures. I went to Benson, been in Phoenix a long time. Suzanne "Susie" Davis
1129tinkerbell@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Used to go there all the time...former Benson Bunny...,been in Phoenix area a long time.
Suzanne "Susie" Davis. 1129tinkerbell@gmail.com

Jimbo said...

Nememan's Bakery in South Omaha was always busy on Saturday mornings with the counter ladies tying up boxes of donuts and cakes with string. And how about the Old Vienna in South Omaha, they had
goose dinners. Millie was the waitress there every day all day long. Love this blog, by the way!

North O Girl said...

Anybody remember the Ming Toy Cafe by the Military Theatre?

Anonymous said...

"Larry" mentioned Jack Holmes original resturant on 50th & Center. You bet! I grew up just north of 48th & Center. Nuncio Pomidoro took it over after Holmes moved out. My 1st job was there as a busboy in 1965 making $.50 an hr. Also bused tables at the "Roam Inn" just West of their inn 1966. And Gorat's in '67. Also cooked burgers and fries at "Mac's". And yes he did have a "Big Mac" long before McDonalds. Best flamed broiled burgers in town.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the name of the tex mex restaurant that took over the Golden Apple in the former Indian Hills Shopping Center on 89th and Dodge? This would have been in the late '80s. Also, Venice Inn is still open on 69th & Pacific - the last of the Caniglia family restaurants. And, does anyone remember Henry's Drive Inn in the 50th & Center area?

Anonymous said...

Robin Hood's restaurant was located on 108th & Q Street in Ralston. I remember the porpoise palace on 72nd and Blondo - my mom took me there once. Also Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant was just south of it by the Dairy Queen. It was where the Burger King is now. The Aquarium restaurant briefly took over the Steak & Ale on south 72nd and now it's an office building. "Here's Johnny" restaurant was next door to the former Steak & Ale and now it's a Credit Advisor's.

Anonymous said...

King Fong's is still open for business. They are cash only and do a good lunch and take out trade. The Dixie Kitchen was located in the Beverly Hills Plaza on 78th & Dodge where Beauty First & Jam's are located. They had a treasure chest for the kids and several flavors of hard stick candy for purchase at the cashier's counter. Former Husker Johnny Rogers dined there in the mid 70's. Arthur Treacher's fish and chips was another short term fast food restaurant in Omaha in the 70's.

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