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Jonesing for craft beer; a family owned watering hole opens along 84th Street

Jonesing for craft beer; a family owned watering hole opens along 84th Street

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Heights Draft Room is a family-owned bar that specializes in craft beer. It opened in July and is the first commercial venture to open in La Vista’s new City Centre project along 84th Street.

“I think a lot of times this is seen as a bedroom community, both Papillion and La Vista, and we have the option to just go to Omaha. And I think that’s why for a long time people said, ‘I can live in Sarpy and I can go play in Omaha.’” said owner-manager Joey Jones.

He said he hopes that the mixed-use entertainment district will help change how area residents see their community.

Joey, 29, along with his parents Mike and Kathy, and brothers Jared and Justin are all owners of the draft room. Joey is the visionary with the day-to-day management of the business. Mike, a retired chief deputy from the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, does a lot of the back office work.

The family has strong ties to the county and are excited to contribute to its economic growth.

Joey is an alumnus of the Papillion La Vista Schools and holds a business degree from Nebraska Wesleyan. He went to work in another industry after college, but was drawn to hospitality and began bartending part-time at his neighborhood joint, the Happy Raven in order to learn the business. He was working seven days a week between the two jobs, but fell in love with being a barman. Joey eventually became a connoisseur of craft beers while patronizing successful drinking establishments in Benson.

“This isn’t work to me. It’s genuinely fun to work here, to be able to talk to the patrons, to work with my staff,” said Joey. “To continue to contribute to the community [where] I grew up and gave me the opportunities that I have, is absolutely fantastic.”

Heights is craft beer-centric, but Joey said he also wants to provide options for people who don’t drink beer or don’t drink at all.

There are glass sizes smaller than a pint and root beer is on tap for kids who join their parents. They also offer cold brew coffee on tap, hard ciders, mead, a few wines and a specialty cocktail menu.

Joey said the beer selections will be carefully curated and will change over time, but he wants to keep a few beers consistently available. If a customer discovers something they love and want to take it home, the bartenders can fill up a 32 oz. can. The take-home option a line of business that has proved especially helpful during the pandemic.

Mike said that he always knew his middle son was a “detail guy,” but he didn’t know the extent of it until they worked together.

“Those glasses down there are a prime example. I can’t tell you how many times we sat at home and he would have samples of glasses and show us the different shapes, different sizes,” said Mike. “We did numerous taste testings with different types of ice cubes. Different shapes of ice cubes until he settled on what he thought was going to be the best ice cube to put in a drink. Every detail.”

Mike also said it was his son who taught him to appreciate beer and not the other way around. Joey said he enjoys educating patrons about beer and expanding their palettes, just like he did for his dad. He wants new patrons to ask questions, learn about new products and have a good experience.

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*Editor's Note: The April 28 print edition of the Papillion Times erroneously identified the school as Papillion La Vista South in the photo p…

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