Storz to open restaurant at former Rick's Cafe Boatyard on Omaha riverfront

New signage at the former Rick's Cafe Boatyard on the Omaha riverfront.

Photos: Storz Brewing Co. history, advertisements

Video: How Storz's plans came together


It's back.

Storz — the historic Omaha brewery — will revive its brand and transform the former Rick's Cafe Boatyard into the Storz Trophy Room Grill & Brewery.

The restaurant will open Nov. 15, its operators announced Thursday. Yves Menard, owner of the Charlie's on the Lake restaurant, will operate the new restaurant.

The Storz Brewing Co. plans to join the nation's craft brewing movement, which is seeing more growth in the Omaha area, by joining with a Nebraska brewer to make Storz brand beers.

Thursday's announcement on the riverfront was held within view of the old brewery's smokestack in north downtown. The company's management team includes John Markel, great-grandson of Storz founder Gottlieb Storz, and his cousin Tom Markel.

“Nebraska, we're back,” Tom Markel said.

"Every business that's successful, I believe, has a cause," Markel said. "And we have a great cause: family unity. That family unity is celebrated in our mission statement, to glorify God through friendship, sportsmanship and stewardship."

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The restaurant is expected to jump-start efforts to further develop Omaha's riverfront.

"Twenty years ago this was the Asarco lead refinery," Mayor Jean Stothert said.

"Today's announcement is about Omaha's future, and it is about Omaha's past." she said. “The family's decision to bring this Omaha brand back to the tap is an exciting addition to our riverfront and will certainly bring back memories for many generations of Omahans.”

The 19,000-square-foot bar and restaurant will be renovated, a plan that includes a Storz memorabilia museum.

Brewery history will be an important facet of the new operation, its operators said. Storz was brewed in Omaha for nearly 100 years before the north downtown plant closed in 1972, six years after the Storz family sold the business.

The original Storz Brewery had a hunting lodge room , called "The Trophy Room," adorned with the stuffed heads of big game. The museum is expected to occupy the building's second floor.

Storz beer will be available statewide through an agreement with five Anheuser-Busch distributors, organizers said.

Storz plans to introduce lager, wheat, pale ale and amber ale products in a few weeks, producing 160,000 cases in its first year of operation.

Stothert aides said the Storz company would work with the Lincoln-based Blue Blood Brewing Co.

Markel said the restaurant would employ about 100 people.

As for the food, chef Menard said the business would focus more on steaks, rather than the seafood Charlie's is known for.

"What I envision is what it should've been in the first place. It should be quality, quality and more quality," he said.

"This will be our party. It's going to be a big project. ... We need this landmark back open."

Rick's closed in January and its operator defaulted on his 30-year lease agreement with the city last spring. Rick Albrecht owned the restaurant business. The city owns the property, which was valued by Douglas County last year at $1.68 million.

Storz representatives said the company would assume a lengthy lease for the vacant restaurant at 345 Riverfront Drive.

City attorney Paul Kratz said the lease agreement on the property, which will extend for 50 years, will remain largely still intact, with some exceptions, including:

• The operators will renovate and make some repairs, including dealing with some code issues.

• They will pay back taxes on the restaurant. The previous operator owed more than $35,000 in taxes.

• The city has waived a lease payment until July 1, 2014.

Storz products will launch Aug. 18 at the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church Polish Festival.

Other events to feature Storz products this month include the Great Nebraska Beer Fest in Papillion, the Cox Classic in Omaha and the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, Neb.

CORRECTION: John Markel is the great-grandson of Gottlieb Storz, founder of Storz, the historic Omaha brewery. An earlier version of this story misidentified the family relationship.

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