More good news for North Omaha!
A great new mix of food, history, and entertainment in the reemerging district…
September 7, 2016, was the formal grand opening and ribbon cutting for the Omaha Rockets Kanteen, a great new restaurant featuring “Soul Food with a Healthy Twist” in the historic 24th and Lake Arts, Culture, Entertainment, and Business District!
“We focus on soul food that is good for you,” said Donald Curry, one of the co-owners along with Marcus Johnson. “I had a very successful restaurant in Chicago and decided to bring the concept back to my own community. I grew up just a few blocks from here.”
The Omaha Rockets Kanteen is a casual cafeteria focused on bringing healthy soul food to the area. The restaurant is named after the independent Omaha baseball team that played exhibition games against touring Negro League teams. Dishes also carry the names of great Negro League baseball players, such as Satchel Paige’s all-star baked wings, Willie May’s soul food wrap and Octavius Cato’s jerked turkey tacos. Diners will also find many southern comforts such as collard greens, red beans and rice and macaroni and cheese. For those who can’t make it to the 24th and Lake St. location, Curry will soon offer these items from his food truck. His mobile food truck was rated in the top 15 in Chicago.
City Council President Ben Gray, Mayor Jean Stothert, Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, Greater Chamber of Commerce President David Brown and Family Housing Advisory Services CEO Teresa Hunter made brief remarks to kick-off the celebratory event.
“The Omaha Rockets restaurant is another critical sign that the North 24th and Lake street area is coming back,” said Gray. As a co-host of the event Gray generously covered the lunches for the first 20 customers.
Other elected officials including Douglas County Commissioner Chris Rodgers, City Councilman Pete Festersen and representatives from U.S. Senator Deb Fischer’s and U.S. Congressman Brad Ashford’s office were also in attendance.
“I was told I looked like money today with my green tie,” said John Ewing. “I’m hoping that will be a great sign for this restaurant and this entire district.”
“I am excited to have the Omaha Rockets Kanteen in the district,” said Chris Rodgers. “It is a great location and I think the restaurant can be a cornerstone to the revitalization of 24th Street.”
Dozens of business partners, community leaders, and customers were also in attendance for this positive occasion. Michael Maroney, one of the key leaders with the North Omaha Village Revitalization Plan and lead developer for North 24th Street had this to say: “The addition of a new business along the 24th and Lake Street corridor will help move the revitalization of the area forward and stimulate more development.”
Based on the input of hundreds of residents and over 1,000 participants, the Village Revitalization Plan cast a vision for a dynamic district at 24th and Lake. The plan was approved unanimously by the Planning Board and City Council in 2011. The rebirth is well underway.
The Omaha Rockets Kanteen is another great addition to the reemerging district and residents are truly excited about having a first class sit down restaurant in the neighborhood. “The Long School Neighborhood residents say ‘AMEN’ to the opening of this new restaurant,” commented Juanita Johnson, President of the Long School Neighborhood Association.
“The Omaha Rockets Kanteen offers a sit-down restaurant with good, health-conscious soul food right in the heart of North Omaha,” said Teresa Hunter, CEO of Family Housing Advisory Services which owns the Lake Point Building where the Kanteen is located.
It also serves as a great complement to the other venues and businesses that have emerged along 24th Street. Love’s Jazz and Art Center has become a major hub for live music, national art exhibits, and community celebrations; attracting hundreds to the district on weekend nights and throughout the week. “The food is like a bundle of soulful rhythms, harmonies with a Jazzy beat that celebrates African-American culture. We will be able to do some great things together,” said Tim Clark, Executive Director of Loves’ Jazz and Art Center.
Styles of Evolution, a full-service men’s and women’s clothing store on the corner of 24th and Ohio is expanding. The Union for Contemporary Arts is in the midst of a major revitalization in the Blue Lion building just across the street. OEDC’s Fair Deal Village Marketplace is just a couple of months from opening and will include a neighborhood grocery store, café and the first of its kind for Nebraska – shipping containers for micro-businesses. The Omaha Small Business Network is pushing forward with a new vision and providing much-needed lease space and resources for start-up businesses.
Willie Barney, President/Facilitator of the Empowerment Network summarized the grand opening event: “The food is excellent. The connection to history and the welcoming environment set the tone. It’s a great addition to the arts, culture, entertainment, and business district at 24th and Lake. Another positive step forward.”
Omaha Rockets Kanteen: Enjoy the Food. Digest the History.