A new restaurant with a beloved old Omaha name — Storz — is set to open its doors on the city’s riverfront, 10 months after Rick’s Cafe Boatyard closed and defaulted on its lease with the city.
Storz Trophy Room Grill & Brewery will open to the public at 6 p.m. Monday, in the former Rick’s building at 345 Riverfront Drive. That will put the city’s investment back in action, although Storz doesn’t have to start making payments until July 2014 on its $60,000 annual lease.
Even during the ribbon-cutting Friday, Storz managers were talking about expanding.
Tom Markel, co-owner of Storz Brewing Co., said he wants to build a brewery in 2014, either adjacent to the riverfront restaurant, or in Council Bluffs.
Currently, Blue Blood Brewing Co. of Lincoln is brewing Storz beer.
“We hope by June to have some or all of our brewing facilities in Omaha or Council Bluffs,” Markel said.
He has been talking with economic development officials on both sides of the river, he said.
Cassie Seagren, Mayor Jean Stothert’s deputy chief of staff for economic development, said city officials are aware of Markel’s desires, but no formal plan has been submitted.
She said city officials, like Storz managers, have been focused on getting the restaurant up and running.
“We’ve had some initial discussions with him about how that would work,” Seagren said.
“We’re waiting for some additional information, and then we’ll be able to start working with him on that.”
Asked whether the city would put further incentives on the table to attract a brewery, Seagren said, “We haven’t even gotten to that part.”
The restaurant’s contract with the city gives it exclusive access to a site that is a redeveloped lead refinery. And the city will prevent any construction in the immediate vicinity that might impair views of the building.
The lease for the property is for 50 years. The new operators were to pay about $19,000 in back taxes, and they renovated the restaurant building.
Friday, Stothert and Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan cut a ribbon on the restaurant along with the businesses’ managing partners: Tom Markel; his cousin, John Markel, who is the great-grandson of original Storz Brewery founder Gottlieb Storz; and chef Yves Menard, owner of Charlie’s on the Lake restaurant.
The restaurant will serve dinner nightly, and lunch and dinner on Friday through Sunday.
Storz memorabilia will be displayed in a museum on the second floor. The original Storz Brewery had a hunting lodge room called the “Trophy Room,” adorned with the stuffed heads of big game. One of the photos donated to the new business shows late actor Jimmy Stewart mingling at a party in the old Trophy Room.
Tom Markel said Omahans have embraced the new business like family, donating such old Storz memorabilia as coolers and electric signs, telling stories about what the brewery meant to them in days gone by, and expressing joy that Storz beer is again flowing in Omaha.
“All of you have become the family of Storz,” Markel said.
Previous Storz stories:
Video: Take a look inside the new Storz Trophy Room Grill and Brewery