George Robinson started rehabbing a north Omaha building then was pumped to learn a celebrity was opening a store a couple of doors away.
He likes the company and hopes to see a ripple effect. He says he’s already witnessed other improvements around the block where he gutted a century-old building to house his Grown Folks private social club.
Robinson, who by day is a business analyst, describes his new enterprise as: “similar to a Starbucks — but take the coffee out and put in alcohol.”
The project at 3713 N. 24th St. is just south of where Omaha native and world boxing champ Terence Crawford this weekend opened his flagship apparel store. The upper level of Crawford’s property is to become the business headquarters of Team Crawford.
Robinson plans also to carve his upstairs into offices to lease. He expects he’ll invest about $200,000 into the 2,400-square-foot structure by completion.
Robinson, whose family has worked in the bar and restaurant industry, says his establishment is not a dance club. It has a catering kitchen, which he will open to entrepreneurs wanting to test out recipes.
He envisions patrons firing up laptops, sipping cocktails and enjoying company of familiar faces.
Grown Folks, which is hosting “soft openings” the next few weekends, was no easy launch. Robinson said city officials were reluctant to OK another liquor license in the area until he proved his was a different sort of bar.
Security measures require a membership card to get in the door. The property has cameras and motion sensors, along with a fresh façade and new floors, plumbing, 12-foot ceilings, bathrooms, furniture and custom counters.
Another phase calls for a secured outdoor patio with fire pits and tables.
Robinson, a Tennessee native who came to Omaha by way of Offutt Air Force Base, said he bought the building for $65,000 from a fellow veteran.
Next door, another new property owner painted and plans further work on an apartment building. Yet another merchant on the block spruced up his storefront.
Robinson said he settled on his spot after talking with city officials and others about the effort to revitalize the 24th Street corridor.
“It really made me want to be one of the first ones to invest,” he said.