“You wanna explore Sarpy County bars by chance? Lol,” I texted my friend.
“Not at all lol but I’m down for Omaha bars,” she responded.
This was going to be harder than I thought. She wasn’t the first person who laughed at the idea, but I get it. Why would she want to hop around from one unheard of suburban bar to the next?
I knew I needed to find someone to go, so I turned to my last hope — my older sister and her husband. Living in Ralston, neighborhood bars are kind of their thing.
Thankfully they agreed to give up a precious Friday to help me with this column.
In case you missed part one — when I went to a Papillion comedy open mic that was surprisingly funny — let me catch you up to speed: everyone says there’s nothing to do for 20-somethings in Sarpy County, and I’m out to hopefully prove them all wrong.
Or right, depending on how it goes.
For this column, I decided to check out local nightlife. To give the city a fair chance, we needed to visit a few bars. Their friend recommended we check out Century Lounge and another mentioned Jammers Pub. We added those to our list and kept searching.
While we obviously couldn’t visit every Bellevue bar, we wanted to check out the best spots in town. I scoured the internet looking for where young people — as in, early 20s to early 30s — can go to chat, sing, dance and, of course, drink. After reading too many Yelp reviews, I came up with a few places to check out.
Our night started in Olde Towne. That’s where Century Lounge is located, and some other bars appeared to be within walking distance of it. If there’s a place ideal for bar hopping, this would be it.
The near-empty streets made parking easy.
The stomping of my heels introduced me to the small group of older people. While standing at the bar waiting to be served, I felt out of place given my age, outfit and the fact that I was alone.
I ordered us a round of lemon drop shots, per my sister’s request. The drinks, while not very strong, were cheap. By the time the bartender handed them to me moments later, my sister and brother-in-law arrived.
We took them — they were delicious — then found a table to sit at. My brother-in-law picked it, perhaps because it had a clear view of the TVs showing football games.
We chose a high-top table near everyone else, but there was also a more secluded lounge area. Plenty of seats were open considering about 20 people were in the bar, including us.
When looking around deciding where to sit, I noticed they had a table filled with food for a potluck. How sweet.
Whoever was buying songs on the digital jukebox, was picking older music that I didn’t know, but that could just as easily been different had someone else been playing them.
The all-wood furniture was a nice touch, but the aesthetics weren’t enough to make up for the lack of young people. Quaint neighborhood bars are cute and have their place, but I wanted something a bit more lively for a Friday night. The few people closest in age were probably in their 30s. It’s what I expected, but hoped wouldn’t be true.
I’m looking for people like us: young and ready to party.
Once our drinks were nothing but ice, we moved on to our next stop, just minutes away.
While braving the wet, 22 degree weather walking to Olde Towne Tavern, I hoped it would be closer to what I’m looking for.
Besides being better lit than the last bar, the two were comparable. The customers were still quite older than us, and it appeared to be another tight-knit group considering they also had a potluck going on. No one was actually eating it, but it was there.
Choosing from a large selection of beer on tap, my sister opted for a peanut butter beer. I took a sip and regretted sticking to my normal vodka-lemonade.
The music was more my style, like Disturbed’s rendition of “Sound of Silence,” but to be fair, that’s only because people with, in my opinion, good music taste were playing songs. Also, this isn’t really a song most people my age would be pumped to hear on a night out.
The bar wasn’t bad, but it still wasn’t how your typical 20-something would want to spend their weekend.
After my sister finished her liquid PB-no-J, we made our way to her husband’s Jeep. He drove us to Jammers Pub. Don’t worry, he was sober.
Just a few minutes away, it’d make for a cheap Uber drive if your whole group wanted to drink.
Honestly, at this point I was expecting to have a chill night. While of course I initially wanted to find a random gem in the middle of the hopefully underrated city, it wasn’t seeming possible with our luck so far.
But then we walked into Jammers.
Finally, I found my people. The big bar was packed, and nearly everyone was mid-20s to early 30s. Clearly this was the hot spot in town. This is what I’d been hoping to find. There was no shortage of talking, singing and dancing. Everyone was letting lose to enjoy their night out.
Of course it took a little longer to be served at the bar, but that’s to be expected at any busy place.
They also had a potluck going on, so apparently we just missed the memo.
A DJ played the tunes instead of a jukebox, and he was killing it. He knows what my generation wants — a mix of new pop music, old-school Jonas Brothers and late 90s- early 2000s rock.
We bopped around to the music while getting to know people. Everyone seemed to know everyone here, too.
This time I didn’t feel as out of place, though, because it was my age range and my sister’s friend we ran into introduced us to the regulars, all friendly.
We stayed, having an unexpected genuinely fun time for hours. From karaoke to darts, we could have easily skipped the first few bars and stayed here entertained all night.
Not long after scream-singing “Mr. Brightside,” by the Killers with my sister, her sober husband decided it’s probably time to go.
I was sad to leave after the good, long night full of adventurous exploring. Though I initially wasn’t thrilled to spend my Friday night at what I assumed would be all low-key bars, I was happy I did.
Now I know where to go if I want to stay in Bellevue, although it’s really not much closer to my house than downtown Omaha. Still, on nights when I’m wanting something different, or am tired of running into so many former classmates in popular bars that going out turns into a high school reunion, it’s a great option to have.
I’ll definitely be going back.