Sunday, February 25, 2024

Dining Notes: Community rallies around John’s Grecian Delight in Bellevue

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The phone lines and internet were down at John’s Grecian Delight in Bellevue and owner John Sakkas was getting worried.

It looked like repairs would take a while, and it was affecting his business, which relies on phone orders and credit card transactions, both of which were not possible. He said it was the toughest month he had ever had, even worse than during the pandemic.

He was thinking about giving up when a loyal customer mentioned his plight on Facebook.

And customers — and the community — offered support in a big way.

“The amount of people we served today was record-breaking. We had people come from all over the state of Nebraska and Iowa,” he said in a Facebook post last week after patrons had learned about his problems. “We are brought to tears.”

Diners left tips bigger than their bills, cleaned tables, made tzatziki sauce and cut vegetables. Other restaurant operators brought to-go boxes. The student council from Cornerstone Christian School had a fundraiser and delivered their donation. A Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce employee bused tables.

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“How do you repay these people,” the post said. “You are forever in our hearts. Thank you!”

The restaurant, at 1001 Fort Crook Road North in the Southroads Mall, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and is closed on Sundays. It serves gyros, burgers, chicken sandwiches, Souvlaki, Chicken Riganato, baklava and more.

Walk Ons in talks for Nebraska Crossing location

The owners of Walk Ons Sports Bistreaux are talking with representatives at Nebraska Crossing mall in Gretna about opening their first Nebraska restaurant.

One of those owners is retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who announced the Louisiana-based chain’s plans on a recent Grow Omaha radio show. He said it would occupy a 6,500 square-foot space.

Nebraska Crossing Chief Strategy Officer Johanna Boston said this week that nothing is finalized, and she couldn’t comment further before there is a signed lease. She did confirm that mall officials are working on details with Brees and the Walk Ons company.

“We’re excited,” she said.

Walk Ons is part of a Louisiana-based chain with outlets in 14 states, mainly in the South. There’s a location in Wichita, Kansas, and the restaurant’s website said one is coming soon in Columbia, Missouri.

The chain was founded by Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, who were walk ons (unrecruited players) for the Louisiana State University basketball team. When they traveled together with the team, they ate at a variety of sports bars across the country and decided that Baton Rouge needed a similar concept.

According to the website, the duo recorded their ideas on a napkin while flying home home from a road game at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The first Walk Ons Bistreaux & Bar opened in 2003 a couple of blocks from Tiger Stadium, home of the national championship LSU football team. As the business grew, Brees signed on as a co-owner.

The restaurant menu features Cajun favorites such as shrimp and grits, beignets, fried catfish, fried alligator and gumbo, plus sandwiches, salads, wraps, tacos and desserts.

Honor for Coneflower CreameryMidwest Living magazine named Omaha’s Coneflower Creamery as Best Ice Cream Parlor in its recent Best of the Midwest Awards.

Winners were announced at on March 3.

“If a scoop shop makes its sprinkles from scratch, you just know the ice cream will be good,” magazine judges said. “Inventive-but-not-zany seasonal flavors (like, say sweet corn) utilize local ingredients. And don’t miss their take on butter brickle, a Nebraska fave first served at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel.”

Owner and chef Brian Langbehn and pastry chef Katie Arant opened the Blackstone District shop in 2017 and it quickly became so popular that lines snake down Farnam Street, especially on hot summer nights.

Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. The shop, at 3921 Farnam St., is closed on Mondays. For more information, go to coneflowercreamery.com.

Mia Italiano update

Owners Tony and Jamie Uphoff have delayed the opening of Mia Italiano, the restaurant that’s taking over the Lo Sole Mio space at 3001 S. 32nd St.

It will now open at 4 p.m. Tuesday. It had been scheduled to launch this week.

“In a nutshell, we both feel like we have one opportunity to make our first best impression. As anxious as everyone is for the opening, we want to reward your patience with a first-class experience that you deserve,” they said on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

They have been having mock service sessions to make sure their staff is ready. The Uphoffs moved from Las Vegas to Omaha to open the restaurant and are industry veterans.

The Mia Italiano menu will include their take on some Lo Sole Mio favorites plus some new dishes. They bought the restaurant equipment from Don and Marie Losole when they decided to close Lo Sole Mio last year and retire.

Wilby’s has brick-and-mortar place

A popular food truck that was launched in 2020 is now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Papillion.

Wilby’s Comfort 2.0 recently opened at 1449 Papillion Drive Suite 103. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Family recipes inspired two cousins to start the business, and one of them has 25 years experience as a sous and scratch chef, according to their website.

Their most-beloved menu items, the website says, are a fish sandwich, the fried lobster dinner, Wilby’s Wings (which come with a variety of sauces, including maple bacon), and a fried fish dinner. They also serve breakfast with a variety of omelets (even shrimp), a breakfast burrito and a pancake sandwich.

Visit dfm-wilbyscomfort2.com to see a complete menu.

So given all the elements you must consider, it’s also no piece of cake to choose the perfect apple pie from several contenders.

We found six burgers we would all eat again in a heartbeat. But a few stood out. We had each had our reasons: The aioli. The caramelized onions. The barbecue sauce. The raisin jam. Even the fries.

The debate was robust, but the team agreed that you can find several slices of good carrot cake in the Omaha area. 

We all were looking for pies that closely followed the traditional Margherita definition: A Neapolitan pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and olive oil.

Each of the seven Omaha bread puddings we tried had its own spin on texture, style, ingredients and authenticity, but there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch. 

Helen’s Caesar Salad at Railcar Modern American Kitchen has a house-made dressing that hits all the right notes. Owner Jared Clarke created the salad for his ailing Aunt Helen.

Chili purists and innovators debate everything from consistency to ingredients and more. We figured we would get blowback from chili connoisseurs, but we didn’t imagine the pain we’d feel at Nettie’s.

Welcome to Omaha’s Great Grub, a series where we venture out to try some of the best dishes the Omaha area has to offer. Our first edition features five local breakfast burrito options.

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