Owner Mike Drust has enjoyed this last year since he (re)opened Beermann’s Restaurant in downtown Lincoln. This Thursday, April 11, will mark the one-year anniversary since he opened the doors.
Opening Beermann’s was a big job. The former establishment had been closed for six years when he took it over. Drust said, “It took me about six months to come in and clean it up. We took most of the furniture out, it was more of the old saloon-style furniture. There were a lot of the taxidermy animal-heads all around. We took those out and decided to go with more of what Lincoln was about.”
Pointing to the numerous framed photographs on the walls above the booths, he continued, “We put up all these pictures of Lincoln from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, more along the line of the history of Lincoln. I went over to the frame shop that Tom (Jones) has. He got the pictures together, framed them all up and he came over and hung them up, too.”
Drust has a lifetime of experience in the restaurant industry. He started in the pizza business at a very young age…very young. He said, “My first job, I was nine years old. I worked for an old Italian guy who didn’t speak English. I worked for him until I was 18 years old. He helped me open my first store at the age of 18.”
Drust worked the pizza business for 45 years, spending the last 23 years operating several Round Table restaurants in the area. He retired two years ago.
“I enjoy the restaurant business, you get to meet a lot of people and 99 & 9/10% of the time, it’s all on good terms,” he laughed.
Drust’s laughter fills the large first-floor dining room at Beermann’s. The building is quiet on a Tuesday morning; he opens for the dinner crowd at 3:00PM on Mondays through Thursdays. He opens earlier for lunch on Friday and Saturday and serves brunch on Sunday.
When Drust opened Beermann’s a year ago, the Lincoln Bypass was still under contruction. After the bypass opened, he noticed a big difference in traffic, but he hasn’t seen a big return of people to downtown Lincoln. He hopes that will change. “Everybody needs to work together to bring people downtown.”
He has a long history in Lincoln. He said, “I’ve lived here since 1989, just six blocks away. When I moved in, it was just under 6,000 people. This town has come a long ways, and it’s still a nice quiet, little town.” He speaks fondly of the downtown area, saying, “All these shops, they have great things in them.”
Drust does more than admire the locals, he works with them. He said, “We try to do as much local stuff as we can. I buy my bread for all my sandwiches right across the street here. I have a local woman who makes all my desserts – cakes, cheesecakes, chocolate cakes. I have beers from Roseville and Loomis breweries.” Drust is known to frequent other local businesses, including other restaurants.
Beermann’s employs nearly 50 people. Drust works closely with his son, John Drust, who organizes the entertainment and keeps Beermann’s buzzing on social media. Executive Chef Phil Johnson recently updated the menu and orders the food. Dana Schleth manages the full bars.
Beermann’s Restaurant has a full bar, kitchen and large dining room on the first floor; the dining rooms seats 88 patrons. The second floor has another full bar and kitchen, a dining room for 70, a game room and a large ballroom with a stage. The Lincoln Community Theater recently had a production in the Beermann’s Ballroom. The ballroom can also be arranged to seat about 120 people for dinners.
In an effort to continuously spread the word, Drust has advertised in newspapers, on radio, direct mailers and coupon deals. Yet, he’s often surprised, saying, “Every single day someone will walk in and say, ‘We didn’t know you were open.’ I’m talking about people who live in Lincoln.”
Beermann’s is a busy place. Every day has a special meal offering. Most evenings have some sort of entertainment going on, too. Zumba. Salsa dancing. Line dancing. Acoustic music. Rock and roll. Country music. Karaoke. Live theater. Murder-mystery dinners. The Dean-O-Holics and Wonder Bread 5.
Drust said, “The ‘Dean-O-Holics’ – they are amazing, a great act. They imitate the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, & others. They’ve been here twice; we book them about every four months.” He added, “Two weeks ago we had ‘Wonder Bread 5,’ they have a following that just love ’em. It was a great crowd, they sold out online, so we had to turn away about 100 people.”
In addition to the live entertainment, people get together at Beermann’s in other ways. Drust said, “We’re doing a lot of weddings now, not only rehearsal dinners or the wedding dinners, but people are getting married here, too. We had three last year and we have eight so far this year.”
Mike Drust reflects on his favorite moments in the restaurant, saying, “After a full day at work, I get to sit back and just watch the people come together, smiling, having a good time, eating and drinking…seeing that, it makes my day. I get to see them enjoying their lives. When I get to have those moments, that’s when I know I’m doing something.”
For more information about Beermann’s Restaurant’s food and entertainment, check out their website.
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