Diners always credited the restaurant’s atmosphere for its success.
It had simple, straightforward sophistication — the long bar with a green marble top, the mirrors on the back wall and parts of the ceiling, the cut-through window that looked into the clothing shop next door, the handful of outside seats made for summertime people-watching.
The restaurant’s interior hasn’t changed much since the late Mary Vogel opened it in 1972, originally as a pub that served food. She worked with three architects on the design of the space, a design that Bob Peters, a former Omaha city planner, an architect and an M’s regular himself, called timeless.
In 1979, Floyd and Kate Mellen bought the restaurant from Vogel. Current owners Ron Samuelson and Ann Mellen bought it from her parents in 1987. Mellen and Samuelson met when he applied for a job there in the mid-1980s. She hired him, and after a year of working together, they became business partners. They’ve run it together since then.
"I realized the other day, " Samuelson said in a 2013 interview, "that I’ve spent almost half my life here."
Samuelson worked at restaurants in college, waiting tables and tending bar, and said the business suits his personality. He returned to Omaha because the Denver restaurants he managed were corporate-owned, and that’s not where he wanted to be.
"Some days, it doesn’t even feel like it’s our restaurant, " Samuelson said of M’s last year. "It feels like we’re the keepers of a community treasure."
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Favorite dishes at M's
It’s hard for regulars to name one dish they love at M’s, but a few are undeniable favorites: the lahvosh, a warm cracker crust topped with mild havarti and an array of toppings; the homemade soups, which rotate daily; the Pub Favorite, turkey, swiss, cream cheese, red onion and mayonnaise on grilled pumpernickel; the grilled sandwiches; and the notorious carrot dog, a whole marinated and grilled carrot served on a wheat hoagie with lettuce, tomato, relish, stone-ground mustard and sauerkraut.
— Sarah Baker Hansen