Jason Pittack spent a year persuading the British that Omaha would be a great place to sell Bentleys, billed as “powerful, handcrafted luxury cars” and priced in the $150,000 to $450,000 range.
Come Dec. 1, after a $2 million renovation of the former Brix restaurant at Village Pointe, Pittack’s Woodhouse dealership will open Bentley Omaha, with sales and service areas, a high-end restaurant and a Bentley-themed retail shop.
“It’s not your traditional car dealership,” with acres of vehicles lined up outside and plastic flags fluttering in the breeze, said Pittack, whose company handles 16 new-car brands, from Alfa Romeo to Porsche.
Rather, the inventory of 15 to 20 new Bentleys will be parked indoors, ready for inspection by customers who otherwise would have to travel to Denver, Minneapolis or St. Louis to find a dealer.
“It’s unique for the city and unique for the Bentley brand to have a restaurant and a mall concept,” he said.
Outside there will be 10 or so parking slots for used exotic vehicles, such as Ferraris or Lamborghinis, that come Woodhouse’s way. “We’ll chase down more of those than what we would normally have on hand,” Pittack said.
Already, 15 people have pre-ordered new Bentleys, and Pittack expects to sell 35 to 50 new models each year, plus another 50 used Bentleys and 50 or so other used exotic cars.
Omaha will be the primary market, he said, but Kansas City will be strong as well as Des Moines, Lincoln and cities elsewhere in Nebraska and neighboring states.
“I’m a car nut, and I’ve always been a fan of Bentleys,” Pittack said. “I actually have one.”
He’s not alone. About 40 Bentleys are registered in Nebraska, according to the State Department of Motor Vehicles.
Bentley’s 50 U.S. dealerships are concentrated mostly in large cities. “There’s a huge territory in the middle of the United States where a lot of these high-end, exotic brands don’t have representation,” Pittack said.
Bentley, a part of the Volkswagen group, produces its cars in Crewe, England, and sold about 3,000 new models in the United States last year. “It’s a small-volume, luxury, performance, boutique type of car,” he said.
Bentley and Rolls Royce were very close in nature and made by the same company until the early 1980s, Pittack said. “As it’s gone forward, the Bentley has become the driver’s type of car, and the Rolls is almost a car to be driven in.”
Although a Bentley has good size and weight, he said, “it’s still very performance- and drive-oriented as well. It’s a comfortable car that can get you wherever you want to go — and pretty fast.”
Pittack said he’s looking for a restaurant operator to occupy about 7,000 square feet of space, with the other 17,000 square feet for the dealership.
He said the staff is ready to go. “It’s going to be fun.”