The Village Bar

Where: 5700 S. 77th St., Ralston

When: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday

Info: VillageRalston.com or 402-315-9211

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Sitting on the corner of 77th Street and Park Drive is one of the oldest buildings in Ralston. At the turn of the 20th century, it served as the mortuary for the town, and in 1913 it was one of two buildings spared from a massive tornado.

Today, it’s grown to become my favorite bar in the Omaha area.

What makes The Village such a great neighborhood bar? Well, it’s certainly not the size of the tiny place, which I think is a tad less than 1,000 square feet. And it’s not the elaborate outdoor patio area — there isn’t one.

For me, it’s a place that’s just felt like home from the first time I walked in the door three years ago, to write a HitThatDive.com review at the request of one the bar’s many regulars.

What’s always impressed me about owner Brock Hatterman’s vision for his place is that he’s managed to keep the small-town, neighborhood-corner bar feel while making it inviting to people of all ages. Call it a dive bar 2.0 if you will.

You’ll be amazed, if you’ve never been here before, that perhaps no other bar this size packs so many things into such a compact space. Skee-Ball, darts, pinball and even a write-your-own Keno ticket machine somehow all fit into the bar without making it feel cramped or uncomfortable.

Hatterman also used the size limitations to his creative advantage. Take his newest invention, the “Bar-Vendor,” which, just as it sounds, is a vending machine that sells craft beer and allows him to stock more than 40 extra beers that the tiny bar would never have had storage capacity to handle.

How it works is pretty clever. An elevator in the machine grabs your selected product and safely delivers it to the bottom, and into your waiting hands, without shaking the heck out it.

The machine itself does not accept cash, so pleasant bar interaction is still required to buy a beer. You’ll have to walk over to the bartender and buy coupons to operate the machine.

Another aspect of The Village Bar that you’re just not going to find at too many other tiny dive bars is the wide array of specialty cocktails, multiflavored Moscow mules, and the always great “14er” bloody mary.

But what ultimately sets The Village Bar apart from many other bars in the area is the role it plays in the Ralston Community. Much like the only pub in a small English town, The Village has served as the community gathering place for the residents of Ralston for many generations.

In any given year, The Village Bar hosts any number of fundraisers to help give back to the community: poker runs to benefit Holy Ghost Parish, skee-ball tournaments to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and even an annual Christmas party that collects thousands of dollars, which Hatterman and friends use to buy groceries for strangers in December.

The Village is also known for some of the most affordable drink specials in town. With $1 draws on Friday, $3 “you-call-it” shots on Thursday and $3.50 craft beer specials on a few nights, The Village makes having fun affordable, too.

Brock Hatterman and his Village Bar live by a simple motto of “treat people honestly, give back to your community and, most importantly, have a great time doing it.” It’s been a recipe for success in this building.

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