Stories from middle America

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A glimpse of what’s on the way, on the corner of 9th and Dodge streets

It’s hard out there for the new kid. Fear of the unknown, fear of being unpopular, fear of being the weirdo eating alone in the cafeteria. The new kid wants to be liked, to be thought of as “cool” and to be invited to hang out. The new kid wants to fit in where all else has long been established.

In school, I was never the new kid. I was born and raised in the same town; I left when I was 19 years old. Looking back, I remember always wanting to be that new kid. I wanted to start fresh, to have a blank slate, so to speak, to be a new or better version of myself.

New kids always stirred things up. They showed up mid-year, right in the middle of our routine and breathed new life into the classroom. They didn’t know our stories or the daily dramas of our lives, and we didn’t know theirs. We saw them and accepted them for what they were: a newer, slightly different version of ourselves. And we couldn’t wait to hang out.

The restaurant industry isn’t so different from school. In any city across the country, new restaurants are popping up, trying to find a niche and make a name for themselves among the established. Diners are wary, unsure… yet interested in getting to know the new cuisine. And before you know it, the new kid in town becomes a place where regulars hang out.

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Sara Blake with LOCAL’s certified cicerone Eric Brouillette and co-owner Charlie Yin

That is the hope for my newest adventure. I was offered, and happily accepted, the position of Assistant General Manager to Omaha’s newest craft beer bar called LOCAL Beer, Patio and Kitchen. Our focus is Nebraska craft beer, and we can’t wait to share our stories with you. We’re taking over the former 9th Street Tavern location at 902 Dodge Street; Omaha’s gorgeous Old Market just blocks away.

We’re a little off the beaten path, but as the new kid, we have a lot going for us. Omaha superstar branding agency Secret Penguin has breathed new life into the space. We’ll will have at least 54 taps of outstanding craft beer, curated by Krug Park alum and Certified Cicerone Eric Brouillette, tasty bar food, prepared by Benson regular and chicken dad, Chef Ryan Kingkade. We’ll also have one of the best patios in the Old Market.

Much of our menu (which I’ve designed alongside Chef Kingkade) will be familiar — the usual suspects one finds in a bar: tasty burgers, chicken wings and tenders, sandwiches, salads and more. But I’m personally excited about our encased meats section of the menu. I admit it, I love hot dogs. There’s something so comforting, so nostalgic about eating a juicy, salty hot dog. Perhaps that’s the comfort and nostalgia I’m relying on when faced with the challenge of being the new kid in town.

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Sara with LOCAL co-owner Charlie Yin

I’m confident that LOCAL will have something for everyone. Whether that means a sunny spot on the patio holding a glass of your favorite double IPA, a seat at our bar with a basket of onion rings in front of you, or at a table with a flight of some of Nebraska’s best craft beers, I think this new kid is going to be one you’ll want to hang out with.

  • Jamie | Jamie’s Recipes

    I am so excited for this new kid! I have been eagerly following the Local journey on Facebook and can’t wait to belly up to some great food and drink.

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