A few weeks ago, I wrote that Bill Baburek, who owns the bars that form Beer Corner USA at 36th and Farnam Streets, had bought a building in Benson and was planning to open a brewery there.
As it turns out, he's not the only one.
Right after the story about Baburek's brewery appeared in the paper, I received an email from Ryan Miller, a 1997 Omaha Bryan High School graduate who lives in Washington, D.C. Miller, an avid homebrewer, said he's been making his own beer since college. (When we spoke on the phone Tuesday, he had just brewed an amber ale). When he was 18, he tried to open a brewery in the north part of downtown, but he was below the legal drinking age and had no money, so it never panned out.
Fast-forward nearly 15 years, and he's a whole lot closer.
Miller, along with Andy Willey, also originally of Omaha, and Christian Young of Boston, bought the building at 6059 Maple St. and began renovations in 2010. Their original plan was to open the Benson Brewery last year, but right after they bought the space, a church leased the storefront a few doors down and the Benson Brewery became ineligible for a liquor license. But the church moved out after a year, and Miller and his fellow investors were able to get a plan in motion to move a bar in.
They got their liquor license last fall and building permits a few weeks ago. Miller expects the brewery to be open by August or September.
The plan, he said, is to have 8 to 10 of his own beers on tap, as well as up to 25 craft beers from other breweries. They're also planning to feature a monthly beer made in conjunction with a local homebrewer, and they want to serve food, though they're still figuring out the menu.
Miller said they looked at a couple of locations before deciding on Benson. Affordability was part of his decision, but that wasn't the only thing he and his fellow investors considered.
“I also think there's a lot of momentum, a lot of pride in Benson.”
And, recently, a whole lot of beer.
In other Benson news, this Friday is the first-ever Benson First Friday (BFF for short), a tour of the galleries and art throughout the neighborhood.
Benson doesn't have many dedicated galleries, so participants had to get creative. Art will also be displayed in businesses along Maple Street between 60th and 65th Streets, in the street, and even on the sides of buildings, said Alex Jochim, an Omaha photographer who is organizing the event with Jamie Danielle Hardy, a printmaker and installation artist.
It won't all be art in the traditional sense, Jochim said. There will be live music, DJs, a yoga demonstration and a fashion show, as well as an open house of the Benson Theatre, which neighborhood leaders plan to restore. Proceeds from a silent art auction will benefit theater restoration efforts.
After dark, several artists will project images onto the sides of Benson buildings.
Jochim said he and Hardy wanted to evoke the atmosphere of a carnival just as much as that of an art gallery opening. And they wanted it to be about more than art, too.
“We started reaching out to everybody that we knew from the city,” he said. “And from the get-go, we knew that this first one, the possibilities are endless.”
The First Friday events begin at 6 p.m., with the projections to begin after sunset. For a list of participating artists, bands and more, visit www.facebook.com/bensonfirstfriday.
And in completely un-Benson-related news:
Brix, 225 N. 170th St., will host a single malt scotch tasting event Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. For $10, scotch enthusiasts can sample from 20 different single malt scotch whiskies, and proceeds from the event will benefit the Food Bank of the Heartland. For more details, visit www.brixomaha.com.
This Sunday's Yoga Rocks the Park event at Turner Park, 3110 Farnam St., will feature a blend of yoga and hoop dancing taught by Chelsea “Sea Rose” Taxman. Taxman has taught hoop dancing — a style of dance using a hula hoop — throughout Omaha since 2009. A $10 donation is suggested and hoops will be available to rent or buy. For more info, visit www.yogarocksthepark/omaha.
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