North Omaha Restaurants Seek Second Helping

Looking for a sit-down restaurant on Omaha's north side can be a chore. Those in the business know why and some are still taking on the challenge.

North Omaha restaurants that once had legendary status are now quickly turning into eyesores. One building that once housed two eateries stands empty. “They don’t have no capital, they don't have nothing to go on," says business owner John Green

The north Omaha restaurant community suffered a major blow when the owners of Mr. C's retired and closed the doors on the restaurant that had served the community for decades.

Chef Mike Whitner runs the Community Cafe at 24th and Lake. He is in his second year of business at this location and says the restaurant road is a rough one because lenders won’t invest in north Omaha.

"A lot of times when you go for loan interviews, they say that this area is a blighted area so they really don’t want to loan money for this area and they suggest for you to go to 72nd Street," says Whitner.

Big Mama's didn’t move to 72nd Street. Forty-fifth and Bedford in the old Nebraska Home for the Deaf has been home for the restaurant for three months and the owner is doing it without help from lenders.

"The banks said that I was too old," says Patricia Givens-Barron, also known as "Big Mama." "I'm 66 years old, I'm very glad to be alive and starting my second career and now is the time for me to do it."

"Big Mama" has served her country, raised four children and she’s watched business in her community decline. "It makes me wonder if they really want to put mom and pop shops or privately owned businesses in north Omaha."

"Big Mama" is hoping that things will change in her community and she hopes that change starts by simply keeping her doors open.

A new restaurant on 24th and Patrick is scheduled to open in April. As with some other start-ups, it's also a small mom and pop operation.

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