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Restaurant & Retail Updates
The former Nobbies store in Bel Air Plaza will be converted into an indoor entertainment center with a full restaurant and bar. Worley Enterprises, which operates Prehistoric Putt and Medieval Putt, bought the 32,000 sq. ft. building, according to Todd Schneidewind and Bryan Hartmann of NAI NP Dodge, who represented the buyer. Worley Enterprises is currently developing The Fat Putter at 10th & Capitol Avenue. Once that business opens, renovations will start on the Nobbies building. Opening will likely be in 2024.
Jackson’s Fair Deal Café opened last weekend in the Fair Deal Marketplace at 2118 North 24th Street. The original location, known as Jackson’s Take-Out, is located at 6209 Ames Avenue. The restaurant’s tagline is “Real Food. Real Fast. By Omaha Natives.”
Lemon Tree Café has opened at 7614 Main Street in Ralston. It replaces the Sojourn Café, which closed a couple weeks ago.
Coneflower Creamery has opened its second location at 1229 Millwork Avenue in North Downtown. It joins a growing list of popular businesses in the Ashton Building. The original Coneflower location is at 3921 Farnam Street in the Blackstone District.
Isla Del Mar Restaurante II has opened at 2502 South 133rd Plaza near Dave & Buster’s. Read Sarah Baker Hansen’s review of the original location – at 5101 South 36th Street – in our Grow Omaha EATS section below.
Mangia Italiana, the popular Italian caterer and restaurant at 7516 Irvington Road, is considering opening a second (takeout only) location. The business recently posted a poll on its Facebook page asking followers to vote for Elkhorn, Midtown, southwest Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Ralston or Millard.
Renovation is in full swing for Nebraska’s first On the Border Tex-Mex restaurant in a former Pizza Ranch building at 8810 South 71st Plaza in Papillion. Dallas-based On the Border has approximately 150 locations worldwide.
Ross Dress for Less plans to open its sixth Omaha-area store in a former Big Lots space at 717 South 72nd Street just east of Nebraska Furniture Mart. Opening will likely take place in the fall.
Construction has started on a Take 5 Car Wash on the southeast corner of 99th & Blair High Road. Take 5 is based in Charlotte, N.C. and has hundreds of locations across the country.
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The “Restaurant & Retail Updates” section is sponsored by Anderson Convenience Market, featuring Quality AMOCO Fuels and serving Omaha since 1952, and proud to announce the return of Quality Amoco Fuels. Look for changes this Summer at Anderson Convenience Market – 8 Omaha area locations!
Learn more about Anderson Convenience market at www.Anderson1952.com
Grow Omaha Eats with
Sarah Baker Hansen
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Review: At Isla del Mar, fun seafood comes with pops of bright flavor
There is no shortage of fun at Isla del Mar.
Whimsical, colorful under-the-sea themed murals decorate the walls. The music is loud and the place always seems packed. And the food is a medley of popping pinks, reds and greens, bright with citrus, herbs, sauces and spice.
During two recent visits to the South Omaha location — the owners just opened a second location in West Omaha — I particularly liked their versions of Mexican ceviche and aguachile, where seafood is served with lots of lime and chili, and their fun spins on birria in burritos, tacos and a memorable birria “pizza,” in particular, sized for a crowd.
I was less impressed with their sushi, which while fresh, was all pretty basic, with repetitive flavors and lots of mayo-based sauces and fried elements.
That said, the menu is vast, and I found several dishes that I’d return for.
Probably my top dish of everything we tried is the la torre imperial, a stacked column of fish ceviche; aguachile, cooked and breaded shrimp; octopus, avocado; tomato; red onion; and their house made, thin red sauce poured all around and over the top.
The dish is impressively composed, with a variety of flavor and texture: crispy shrimp with a tempura crunch, acidic fish ceviche with plenty of bright kick and a softer texture and the shimp aguachile, firm and spicy, with a kick from the “chile water” that seasons it with spice, lime and salt.
It’s pretty, and a blast to eat.
I found similar success in another towering dish, the torre poke, which is a poke bowl translated into a pretty stack, with a rice base, a layer of avocado and cucumber, a layer of spicy crab and a layer of acidic, soy-dipped tuna, finished with spoonfuls of fish eggs and a dash of both black and white sesame seeds.
Of the dishes on the sushi menu, it’s easily my favorite. Like the la torre imperial, it’s a wonderful mix of texture and temperature, with some warm elements and some cool, and a nice balance of creamy crunch next to acid and salt.
The rest of the sushi menu is enormous, and I count close to 50 or more rolls, between the special rolls and the regular rolls, plus poke, nigiri, sashimi and the option for several large-format sushi boats.
I tried three rolls — the night we visited, the kitchen was having a buy two, get one free order of sushi rolls, so how could I not?
A lot of the rolls are fried tempura style or coated in sauces, of which there are many, including sweet wasabi, queso, mango sauce, cilantro sauce and sriracha, among others.
I wanted to taste the fish, and be able to judge the quality, so I went for three of the less saucy rolls.
The arcoiris roll — their version of a rainbow roll — comes with crab, cucumber, avocado, salmon, tuna, halibut and cilantro sauce. I also got the primavera roll, made with shrimp, cucumber, avocado, salmon, halibut and a cilantro sriracha sauce; and the Mexican roll, with tuna, hamachi, avocado, jalapeño, cream cheese, cilantro sauce, serrano pepper slices, sriracha sauce and togarashi, which is a spicy topping made of dried peppers.
I’m going to be honest here: When the plate arrived, I had a hard time telling any of the rolls apart. The Mexican roll was obvious, with its jalapeno topper. But the presentation and the look of each one was remarkably similar, and every single one had a dollop of sriracha, whether advertised or not.
The quality of the fish throughout seemed fine, and nothing tasted off. But diners can get this type of sushi at lots and lots of restaurants in Omaha; there is nothing singular here.
Perhaps it was the fault of the cilantro sauce — all three of my rolls had it, I realized later — or those dots of sriracha, but they all tasted remarkably the same. I saw a lot of other diners eating sushi, to be sure, but I saw more people enjoying the menu’s Mexican dishes, and that’s what I’d do from now on, too.
After my visits, I called Jessica Vazquez, who is the general manager at the South Omaha location, and is also in charge of administration and HR for the restaurant. She gave me the backstory of Isla del Mar, which started in 2017 in a tiny spot on 20th street, and almost instantly became incredibly popular, with a line out the door on the regular. A year and a half later, in July 2019, they opened at their current location, near 36th and Q Streets. A few weeks ago, they opened a second location, near 132nd and West Center.
She said while the menus at the two locations are similar, there are some new dishes being tried out at the Center street location.
“We are growing the menu,” she said. “We introduce new things, see what people like and if they like it, we add it to the menu.”
She said the two locations have different clientele: The South location has more Hispanic diners; so far, the West location has more Anglo diners.
One thing that is popular across both locations, though, is birria, and the menu offers several variations. Vazquez said the restaurant started serving birria during the pandemic from a food truck in the parking lot, and it proved so popular they added it to their regular menu.
There’s birria tacos, quesadillas and burritos, all of which have a side of super savory, rich consomme for dipping on the side, and that’s a big part of what makes it so good.
But Isla del Mar has also had some fun with its birria menu, adding birria ramen, birria fries, birria nachos and a birria torta.
We tried to order the burrito ahogado one night, but our waitress steered us away from it, saying it was going to be too spicy. We ordered the burritos grandes instead, which is mild. I’ll note that the menu doesn’t mention either of these being spicy. In fact, they appear exactly alike aside from one difference: the burrito ahogado comes topped with cheese and the consomme, which makes sense, because ahogado translates to “drowned.”
Anyhow. The beef inside the burrito is good, though, tender and flavorful, and the dish comes packed with beans and rice and plenty of cilantro. The consomme is wonderfully layered, the broth full of spices.
Our favorite of the birria list that we tried is the enormous birria “pizza,” which is sort of like a giant quesadilla stuffed full of beef, sliced into wedges, topped with a wide drizzle of sour cream and a side of consomme and served searing hot. It’s enormous, enough for at least four people and perhaps six, and we took home plenty of leftovers.
Cocktails at Isla del Mar are enormous and eye-catching: Matthew tried a large red beer one night, topped with several shrimp, spiced peanuts and a smoky-sweet Tamarind and tajin stick. I tried both the classic and some of the flavored margaritas, and all are solid.
I like Isla del Mar, and I can see why it’s so popular. For a restaurant with such a large menu, it does a lot well, and most of what I tried, I would return for. Omaha doesn’t have many restaurants focused on Mexican seafood; the selections here are worth sampling.
The Big Story
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First Quarter 2023 Development Projects
The first quarter is in the books so let’s take a look at development progress during the first three months of 2023.
Big Tech Companies
Before the first building was even completed, Google announced it would expand its data center campus near 114th & State Street, adding 187 acres to its existing 270-acre site. Building space will total more than 2.2 million sq. ft.
In addition to the new campus, Google continues to expand its Papillion and Council Bluffs data center sites. The Omaha metro area is believed to be home to the largest Google operational presence anywhere in the United States.
Meanwhile, Amazon formally opened is massive regional fulfillment center at Highways 50 & 370 in Papillion. The initial employment of 300 is expected to grow significantly.
Mutual of Omaha Tower
Mutual of Omaha broke ground on its 44-story, 800,000 sq. ft. office tower in January. Construction is now in full gear. As of this week, workers are boring deep into the ground, creating the concrete-and-steel pilings that will hold up the future skyscraper. When it’s complete in early 2026, the 677-foot building will be the tallest in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and the Dakotas.
Owners of the Union Omaha soccer team hope to build a $100 million, 10,000-seat stadium in north downtown that could be accompanied by new housing, a hotel and entertainment businesses. The project may depend, in part, on funding from the state of Nebraska.
The soccer team currently plays at Werner Park in Papillion, home of the AAA-level Omaha Storm Chasers professional baseball club. A downtown stadium could allow Union Omaha to move up to a higher league and add a women’s pro soccer team. Union Omaha has not publicly identified a site.
The owners of Nebraska Crossing are hoping to expand the popular Gretna property by 1,000 acres, adding class-A retailers, hotels, a water park and a regional youth sports facility. Nebraska Crossing would target major new-to-market retailers such as IKEA.
The first quarter brought us an update on the Crossroads project. Sewer work has been completed. Street paving is scheduled to begin in May. Construction is already underway on a related project to widen Dodge Street west of 72nd Street and to improve Cass Street on the development’s north side. Infrastructure work should be completed by the end of this year. The first building should start going up in early 2024.
North Omaha Airport
The new ownership of a small airport at 72nd & Highway 36 announced plans to create “a unique destination for leisure pilots and members who share the intrigue of aviation.” Part of the plan would involve the construction of a 76-room hotel and a private restaurant clubhouse on the grounds.
The new North Omaha Airport would be designed for those in the aviation community and would be a strict membership-only model. Think of it as a country club for aviators.
According to the airport’s owners, the improvements solve the five biggest reasons leisure pilots don’t fly to new locations: 1. The logistical challenges of overnight hangar availability; 2. Lodging accommodations; 3. Transportation; 4. Things to do; and 5. Itinerary planning makes it difficult for pilots to explore new cities.
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Grow Omaha Snippets
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Spare Time Entertainment is an indoor entertainment center planning to open soon in a former Gordmans store at 172nd & West Center Road in Lakeside Hills. The 50,000 sq. ft. building will have 22 bowling lanes, 90 arcade games, laser tag, escape rooms, a full-service restaurant plus a pizzeria.
Spare Time is owned by Vermont-based Bowl New England, which has 18 entertainment centers mostly in the eastern Unites States.
Blackstone Square, a brand-new retail building at 3863 Farnam Street is almost ready, according to Slate Architecture. The 10,561 sq. ft. building has two floors, a large rooftop deck and frontage on both Farnam and Harney streets.
Leasing is underway for the newly constructed Dewey Park apartments, according to GreenSlate Management. The 4-story building has 55 apartment units and is located on H.W.S. Cleveland Boulevard adjacent to Dewey Park in Midtown.
Beginning April 24th, Farnam Street from 48th Street to Saddle Creek Road will close to traffic until late November. The closure will allow the City of Omaha to improve existing traffic flow and safety, as well as accommodate traffic flow within the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s new Saddle Creek campus. Improvements include grading, burial of a high-voltage transmission line and installation of a new signal at 46th & Farnam Street.
In preparation of UNMC’s expansion, the City of Omaha plans to negotiate with business owners near Saddle Creek Road and Leavenworth Street to acquire property necessary for road and sidewalk improvements, according to KETV. City officials could use eminent domain in order to acquire certain private properties.
In a recent article, the Omaha World-Herald updated plans for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Project NExT, a multi-billion-dollar medical facility planned for a 7.5-acre site on the northeast corner of campus. “Demolition and site preparation, funded by philanthropists, were completed for significantly less than anticipated, allowing contractors to do more to create a structural base than expected.”
The first phase of the project will involve replacing physical facilities that need updating. The start of the second phase depends on work with a handful of federal agencies and departments, including defense, health and human services and the Veterans Administration.
Grow Omaha Snippets are brought to you by Omaha Car Care with four metro area locations – 131st & Dodge, 58th & Center, 85th & L and 144th & Harrison.
Omaha Car Care “We’ll be along for the ride.”
Local Business News Sponsored by FranNet of The Heartland:
The Port of Long Beach in California has extended Omaha-based HDR’s contract to create the final design for the $1.567 billion Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility through 2027. The project will streamline the movement of goods via rail rather than truck. HDR has worked on the program since the 1990s. In 2019, HDR was selected to provide environmental and preliminary design services for the landside modernization program.
Scoular will break ground this month on a $20 million expansion of its feed blending facility in Jerome, Idaho. Completion is planned for about a year from now. The facility provides custom feed blends for dairy and beef customers.
Club Car Wash has opened at 22nd & Capehart Road in Bellevue. The Missouri-based car wash chain now has six locations in the Omaha metro area.
Union Pacific Corporation will release first quarter 2023 financial and operating results on Thursday, April 20, 2023, at 6:45 a.m. CDT. The company’s management team will host a conference call and live webcast at 7:45 a.m. CDT.
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has leased 1,200 sq. ft. at 3030 West Broadway in Council Bluffs, according to Trenton Magid and Samantha Estivo of NAI NP Dodge, who represented the building’s landlord.
U.S. inflation eased in March to its lowest level in nearly two years, but underlying price pressures likely keep the door open for the Federal Reserve to consider another interest-rate increase at its May meeting, according to the Wall Street Journal. The consumer-price index rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from February’s 6% increase and the smallest gain since May 2021.
The pandemic and increasing global security threats have prompted efforts to bring manufacturing back to the United States. It appears to be working, according to The Hustle, as construction spending on manufacturing projects last year hit an all-time high. U.S. manufacturing capacity in 2022 grew at its highest level since 2015.
This section is sponsored by FranNet of The Heartland, the local, trusted franchise experts. They are “in the business of helping you get into business!”
Grow Omaha University
Leadership & Sales Insights for Ambitious People
Sponsored by MyStaff, Inc.
Compiled by Grow Omaha co-founder and sales trainer Jeff Beals.
Leadership & Management
Self-discipline is essential for every leader, according to TeamBuilding.com. You can show professional discipline by completing tasks before deadlines, keeping appointments, and wrapping up meetings promptly. Other small steps can be adopting good routines at home, such as getting up on time and exercising often.
More than two-thirds of parents of adult children have made or are currently making a financial sacrifice to help their supposedly grown-up kids, according to a new Bankrate survey. Parents have sacrificed retirement savings (43 percent), emergency savings (51 percent), paying down their own debt (49 percent) or reaching a financial milestone (55 percent).
Prospecting cannot be an afterthought or something done only when you feel it’s necessary, according to sales guru Mark Hunter. “Only when you move from viewing sales as a job to viewing it as a lifestyle will you begin to fully embrace what prospecting is all about. Prospecting drives sales, drives business, and drives the economy.”
Firms where salespeople get consistent coaching see 73 percent quota attainment, according to Spotio.
The Greater Omaha Chamber is presenting a “Sales Workshop with Jeff Beals” on April 25th at the Jewish Community Center of Omaha. This half-day program is designed to help sales pros find better prospects, land more deals and capture greater market share. For more information or to register, click HERE!
“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Grow Omaha University is sponsored by MyStaff Inc, a locally owned staffing firm whose purpose is helping Nebraska companies recruit for corporate office positions.
My Staff Inc – Our team helps you find yours!
Upcoming Events in the Metro
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Omaha Startup Job Mixer on April 14th: Join others at the Omaha Startup Job Mixer for an exciting opportunity to discover new career possibilities and hear firsthand from successful startup founders and their first employees at some of Nebraska’s fastest-growing companies! Expand your professional network and gain valuable insights into the world of entrepreneurship and innovation. Best of all, this event is completely free! Come be a part of this innovative community while exploring new career avenues!
Midwest Best Comedy on April 14th: Amp up your Friday night at the Blackstone Theater for an evening full of laughter! Stand-up comics from the Midwest and beyond are bound to leave you laughing like you never have before. This comedy showcase will feature some of the most talented comedians who have mastered the art of jokes and entertainment. Bring your friends, partner or colleagues for an unforgettable night!
Tequila Expo on April 15th: Spirit World is hosting its 2nd Annual Tequila Expo! Happening on Saturday, April 15th between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. They’ll be showcasing a variety of tequilas from blancos to anejos, representing different flavor profiles and price ranges. Enjoy straight samples and learn how to use them in cocktails!
Lunch and Learn on April 19th: Lunch and Learn is happening every 3rd Wednesday of each month at Modus Coworking! This month features Morgann Freeman where she’ll be speaking about Nebraska legislation. Join the discussion and enjoy a free catered lunch on April 19th!
Coffee on the Commons on April 20th: Come join others for Coffee on the Commons! Every third Thursday of the month at 11:30 AM, the Tri-Faith Initiative invites you to connect and catch up with other members of the community. Enjoy a casual coffee hour with no objective beyond getting to know one another. Sip on coffee, tea, or decaf while chatting and laughing with new friends. Whether you’re a regular at the Commons or have never been before, this is the perfect opportunity to drop by and make some new connections!
Opportunities at Intersection of eCommerce and Logistics with Paul Jarrett on April 20th: Dive into the exciting world of eCommerce, subscription businesses and the intersection of software and logistics hosted by Scale Omaha! Scale Omaha is dedicated to sharing the success stories of technology innovators and business builders in the greater Omaha region. This month’s event will feature Paul Jarrett, a father, husband, CEO, entrepreneur, innovator, athlete, and speaker. With years of experience managing advertising campaigns for billion-dollar brands, Paul and his Co-Founder launched Bulu Box, a health and wellness product sample Subscription Box in 2012. Since then, Bulu has evolved by building and selling a software company and partnering with large retail brands like American Express, BuzzFeed and Disney to execute “Private-Label Subscription Box” programs. Head to Modus Coworking to learn from Paul Jarrett and connect with other like-minded individuals in the tech and business community!
This Upcoming Events section is sponsored by Eagle Mortgage Company, is a locally owned and full-service mortgage company in Omaha.
Eagle Mortgage can help you realize your dream of owning a home.
People in the News
Sponsored by Baird Holm Attorneys at Law
Tamara Franklin, who served as Chief Digital, Data and Analytics Officer at global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., has been elected to the Mutual of Omaha Board of Directors. Franklin has more than 25 years of experience leading digital businesses. In addition to her role at Marsh & McClennan, she held senior leadership positions at IBM, Scripps Network Interactive and Time Warner, Inc.
Tenaska Marketing Ventures has promoted four executives related to the recent retirement of Lori Bruck, Chief Marketing Officer. William Geis and Kristen Gould are executive vice presidents of origination, North America. Chris Forsman and Matthew Millard have been promoted to executive vice presidents of trading. The new leadership structure reports to Mark Whitt, president.
Gerald Kuhn, director of human rights and relations for the City of Omaha, has resigned. Mayor Jean Stothert will name an interim director and begin a process to hire a permanent replacement.
Cobalt Credit Union has hired Haley Christensen as vice president of information technology enterprise applications. She most recently served as a financial data analyst at a different Omaha financial institution. Christensen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems from Bellevue University.
WoodmenLife has appointed Charles Farrior III as regional director of the North Carolina West Region. Farrior leads a team of 36 Sales Representatives serving members in Western North Carolina. He was previously a recruiting sales manager. He joined WoodmenLife in 2010.
The “People in the News” section is sponsored by Baird Holm LLP. Baird Holm’s dedicated team of real estate lawyers has extensive experience in all aspects of real estate law, including purchases, sales, zoning and land use, leasing, and dispute resolution. Click HERE for more information.
Wall Street: The Week in Review
with George Morgan
The author is founder of Morgan Investor Education of Omaha.
Sponsored by Baird Holm Attorneys at Law
Views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.
It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are good looking and all the men are above average. The reasons for this quiet week are the Easter holiday and the absence of any inflammatory Federal Reserve commentary.
Like most things Wall Street-related, I have no smoking gun to prove my supposition. All I have is the fact that these two events occurred concurrently and the lack any counter party jibber jabber to dispute my claim.
The trading volume was the lowest I’ve seen in a long time. I have never calculated an exact average figure. It’s kind like high blood pressure. You don’t need a definitive number for it to kill you. When I talk about market volume, I am referring to the number of trades reported on the two major trading exchanges: the NYSE and Nasdaq. There are an unknow number of trades that occur between among big banks – such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and the mutual funds – that goes unreported.
The vision most Americans have of the stock exchange is a bunch of guys in blue lab coats running around with a pad of paper in one hand and a wooden pencil in the other, scribbling notes and yelling at each other. That train left the station about a decade ago.
If you look at today’s New York Stock Exchange, there are about half a dozen guys in blue lab coats running around with iPads in hand. The reason for the iPads is so they can play video games to pass the time of day. In the old days, they threw their used paper on the floor and at the end of the day the place looked like a Minnesota snow storm. Today it looks like a hospital surgery room.
Today’s exchange is a well secured, air-conditioned server farm. During non-market hours, all you see is a panel of slowly blinking lights. The moment market trading begins, they light up like the face of a puppy who has just been offered a handful of treats.
So why this week’s slow down?
These server farms are set into motion by algorithm traders who listen for specific words when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell makes an announcement. When the computers hear one of the magic words, they spring into action. They ping servers on the several dozen exchanges looking for a place to buy a stock at a price this is a fraction of a penny lower than the price they can sell it for on another. Not a big margin. But in the prophetic words of Hubert Humphrey, “Pretty soon it adds up to real money.”
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Have You Watched Grow O on Video Yet?
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The Grow Omaha radio show broadcasts live every Saturday morning at 9:00, but now you can watch videos of each episode instead of just listening.
Grow Omaha’s brand-new website features video footage shot inside the radio studio during each week’s show!
Videos include News of the Week, Lightning Round, guest interviews, and “Grow Omaha Uncut,” a behind-the-scenes look at what happens during commercial breaks.
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