Five new bars and dining places are set to open in the downtown Capitol District — bringing jazz, karaoke, custom slider burgers, a speakeasy and a south-of-the-border flavor to the area.
At the heart of the district is the $205 million Capitol District redevelopment project built upon two blocks previously occupied by city-owned parking lots near 10th Street and Capitol Avenue.
Three of the newcomer businesses are on that project site, which is anchored by the new Marriott Hotel and a 218-unit apartment building. In between those anchors is a football-field-sized outdoor plaza lined with retail bays.
Mike Moylan of Shamrock Development, which led creation of the entertainment-focused district, said the last big construction piece to ring the plaza is expected to begin in the next few weeks. That multilevel building is to have two floors of office space and ground-floor retailers. It, along with seven to 10 still-to-be-identified businesses around the plaza, essentially would complete the multimillion-dollar project first envisioned in 2011.
Among just-announced newcomers is the Jewell jazz club, a live music, cocktail and dining spot that plans to feature national acts and local artists.
“Omaha has a rich music history and we want to celebrate that,” said owner Brian McKenna, noting that Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Duke Ellington played in Omaha. “We want to pay homage to them with a one-of-a-kind venue worthy of that tradition.”
The Jewell is to bring other music genres to the venue as well, its owner said. The club will be accessible from the Marriott as well as the district’s outdoor plaza.
Moylan said he was pleased to note the local ties of incoming businesses.
“We’ve been really focused on the tenant mix,” he said. “While we like national tenants, we also appreciate new-to-market operations and the independent nature of local and Midwest-area operators.”
More on the latest wave to come to the Capitol District:
» Epoca Cantina, a bar that will offer Latino-themed food, is the third location for Omaha restaurateur Juan Magana, who also owns and operates the Corner Kick in Millard and the Hoppy Taco in Dundee. It is expected to be open this fall, Moylan said.
» Burgerim fast-casual restaurant specializes in made-to-order slider-sized burgers intended to encourage customers to try different flavor combinations. It is expected to open this summer.
» Moe & Curly’s, which also has a west Omaha site, will offer the opportunity to sing karaoke seven nights a week with help of a professional, in-house DJ. Inside the karaoke bar will be Howard & Fine, a speakeasy featuring craft cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
“After 18 years of being out west, we are excited to bring a second location downtown to the Capitol District,” said owner Ben Heairet.
Heairet’s businesses are to be in a space along Capitol Avenue but outside the plaza area.
Shamrock wants to brand the larger area — which includes DJ’s Dugout, LOCAL Beer, Patio and Kitchen and Nosh Restaurant and Wine Lounge — as the Capitol District. But the city-approved entertainment district boundaries, where people can openly carry alcoholic beverages, apply only to the plaza area.
Already open in retail bays lining the plaza is an earlier group of retailers including Annie’s Irish Pub, Beer Can Alley and The Exchange.
Inside the district’s Marriott Hotel are the Society 1854 restaurant, Burdock + Bitters cocktail bar and Starbucks coffee shop.
J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood is to open in the fall in the hotel, and Lighthouse Pizza is to open this summer on the ground floor of the apartment building, with a patio spilling onto the plaza.
Currently, the Capitol District is hosting the touring exhibition “Our Body: The Universe Within,” at 225 N. Capitol Ave. The show is described as an “artful, dignified” way for guests to learn about the human body.
Shamrock Development was selected seven years ago by city officials and the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, which operates the CenturyLink Center, to redevelop the two-block site that had been used as MECA parking lots.
The City Council approved up to $35 million in tax-increment financing for the project, and city officials touted the project as the key to the continued success of downtown Omaha.