Omaha City Council Weighs in on Future of “Biker Bar”


October 28th, 2015

The Welcome Inn Tavern is an Omaha establishment with a reputation as a biker bar. During yesterday’s City Council Meeting, the new owner of the Welcome Inn asked Council members for a chance to change the bars public image.


After a fire alarm was tripped and City Hall evacuated, City Council members weren’t quite sure if their 2 o’clock Tuesday meeting would start on time, but after firefighters gave the all clear, Council members returned to the legislative chambers.

Before they began discussing regular agenda items, however, Councilman Garry Gernandt read a proclamation recognizing the service of Tom Cavanaugh, the long- time Douglas County Clerk and comptroller who died last week after a battle with cancer.

“I’m certainly going to miss bumping into Tom in the parking garage or in the elevator vestibule,” Gernandt said. “He always, no matter what type of day he was having or you were having, he could put a smile on your face; no matter what. We need a lot more of those types of people, and it’s sad that we lost one of those.”

The first 15 items on the agenda dealt with property re-zonings. All of the items passed unanimously with no public comments.

The Council then took up what had the potential to be the most controversial item of the day, an ordinance that had been laid over since March that would allow Verizon Wireless to construct a 105’ tall broadcast tower on Fort Street, near the Stone Creek Golf Course and housing development.

However, before any new discussion could take place, Councilwoman Aimee Melton made a motion to lay the item over again until January 26th, which the Council quickly approved.

Next, the Council turned their attention to applications for liquor licenses.

Nicholas Riggles is the new owner of the Welcome Inn, and was asking the Council to recommend the Nebraska Liquor Commission. Before he would give his blessing, though, Councilman Gernandt wanted to first make sure Riggles would change the Welcome Inn’ s reputation.

While addressing Riggles, Gernandt said, “Some of the neighbors felt that [the Welcome Inn] was a biker bar. Do you have any intention of catering to that type of clientele?”

“No, we aren’t going to put up any signs or logos that represent that,” Riggles responded.

“Will you be having any type of music?” Gernandt asked.

“We were thinking about having outside bands. We’re not going to do that now. We might have jazz inside, and that’s as far as it would go,” Riggles answered.

Riggles said the Welcome Inn would offer live jazz music once a month, at the most.

The Council unanimously approved the Welcome Inn’s application.

Several other liquor licenses were approved before Council Members eventually heard from Paul Cohen, the administrator for the Omaha-Douglas Public Building Commission. Cohen was seeking an amendment to a lease agreement between his office, the City of Omaha, and Douglas County. Cohen said the amendment, “will enable us to obtain another $10 million in bond money, to complete the project in the Hall of Justice.”

 Cohen said the $10 million figure included $3.6 million that would be set aside for for “yet to be prioritized projects” over the next three years. The Council didn’t vote on the ordinance Tuesday, as it was only on its second reading.

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