Looking in through the front window during the secret “soft” reopening of M’s Pub, 422 S. 11th Street in the Old Market in Omaha on Sunday, October 29, 2017.
?: kent sievers / omaha world-herald

“For many, coming back feels like home.”

Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially when it’s served with a seasonal cocktail and M’s famous lahvosh. A three-alarm fire destroyed one of our culinary landmarks in January 2016; a monumental blow to our Old Market and a legion of devoted diners. From that burned-out shell, M’s Pub has risen again.

“I’m thrilled. Just thrilled,” says Rita Saunders who’s been coming to M’s with her husband since it opened in the early ‘70s.

“It almost feels like it never was gone,” says longtime owner Ann Mellen. “It’s a dream come true — again.” 

Ann wanted to replicate the space as faithfully as possible so she enlisted the expertise of BVH Architects. Gary Bowen led the project – a professional homecoming of sorts. He and his former partners John Morford and Cedric Hartman designed the original M’s Pub in 1972. To Gary, M’s is more than a place to eat, it’s a local icon.

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Fire Apparatus Engineer, Ryan Parks, with the Omaha Fire Department looks on at the aftermath of a three-alarm fire at the M’s Pub on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.
?: brendan sullivan / omaha world-herald
Omaha firefighters watch from the perimeter as colleagues work to extinguish a blaze in the Old Market on Saturday evening, Jan. 9, 2016.
?: rebecca s. gratz / omaha world-herald

“People have said that it’s a magical place, an Omaha institution,” he says.

Such an M’s aficionado, the veteran architect turned author to help chronicle the restaurant’s return.

“We felt that recreating M’s was a story worth recording for posterity,” Gary says, a story that began when original owner Mary Vogel envisioned the establishment’s from its original warehouse shell, a shell she says offered “intimacy and spaciousness.”

M’s Pub reopened in November 2017; a cherished dining companion picking up right where it left off, as a Georgetowne-inspired, London-flaired restaurant-pub reminiscent of romance, yet cosmopolitan, chic and extraordinary. “The ambiance is back” says Evan TreKell, who used to eat lunch at M’s five-days-a-week. And yes, the restaurant’s renowned baked dishes, the Thai lahvosh, the lamb burger, the carrot dog, the Omaha Grill… they’re all back as well.

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Excerpt from Omaha: We Don’t Coast, 2018 edition  – a Greater Omaha Chamber publication celebrating the 30+ communities that make Omaha – Greater Omaha. Created and produced by the Omaha World-Herald.