I once attended a high school reunion at The Spillway that was so much fun, I almost went to my own. It was also the first bar I visited legally when it was Mosquito Creek. (Very first was The Way Station in Ames, Iowa, while “seeking shelter” from the Veishea riots.)
The Spillway is in a mid- to late-’80s shopping center in the shadow of the Loess Hills, the Mall of the Bluffs, one of your better Goodwills, the highly rated Sequels Thrift Store and the Shoppes at Madison Avenue.
Also worth noting for nightlifers: It’s easily located right off the I-80/Madison Avenue exit, it’s adjacent to the clean/reasonably priced Western Inn (should overindulgence occur) and it’s right across the avenue from a Village Inn. You’re welcome.
Outside, The Spillway is uniquely wooden and has a boardwalk. Spurs would sound great on it (please remove before scoring the carpet). My favorite exterior feature is a second-story white door to nowhere. I pray they never remove it. Should my dream of retiring ever come true, I would insist that a similarly located white (or green) door-to-nowhere be installed. It would be called “Behind the White (or Green) Door.” It would be judged “awesome” by the computer that takes my job.
The parking lot (not owned by The Spillway) resembles nothing so much as recent photos of the dark side of the moon from China’s Chang’e 4 probe. It’s large, gray and a tad cratered. Nothing your moon rover can’t navigate around.
My sidekick was history author, Wicked Omaha tour guide and bon vivant Ryan Roenfeld (HistoryWalksNebraska.com). His insights into local history are invaluable.
The Spillway’s interior is large enough for four bars. The upstairs party room alone holds 159. Stephanie Klement, owner for 10 years, offers variable pricing depending on size and length of party with no minimum tab, which is where the others get you. Klement and our charming bartender Taylor offered good conversation, as well as the location of a classic guitar shop.
Taps include Sam Adams seasonal, Angry Orchard, Blue Moon, Stella Artois, Bud Light and Miller Lite, plus three IPAs from Millstream, Goose Island and Elysian. Happy hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
There is a large food menu featuring never-frozen, hand-pattied burgers. Daily specials are, Monday through Saturday, respectively: chicken fried steak, $2 Busch Light; All-You-Can-Eat Taco Tuesday, all cans $2; Chef’s choice Wednesdays, $2 Bud Light and Miller Lite pints; hot beef or French dip sandwiches, $3 wells and specialty beers; walleye, $5 energy bombs; and $8 pizza, 50-cent wings and $16 domestic buckets.
The Spillway is always family-friendly. Roenfeld recommends the French dip. I was all over my bacon and egg cheeseburger.
There is an ATM, pool, darts, 11 TVs, free Wi-Fi and — the best idea ever — a Breathalyzer by the door reminding you to stay safe and never drive buzzed.