Omaha is a thriving metropolis boasting an elevated dining scene, a rich cultural heritage, and plenty of entertainment options. There’s no doubt we are lucky to live here! If you ask anyone what our city is fueled by, you’ll receive various answers (and “steak” would probably be in the top five). But in our opinion, Omaha is driven by its people, their love for each other, and their love for the midwest.
So since it’s the season of love, we decided to round up some couples in the city that help make Omaha so special. Whether they’re running a restaurant or anchoring the evening news, they are all chasing their passions — and serving as relationship role models. Read on for their love stories!
Photo courtesy of Hope Jewell Photography
You’ll recognize Autumn and Luke from Hardy Coffee Co., a local favorite serving up freshly roasted coffee and warm pastries! In fact, Hardy Coffee Co. is one of our favorite places for coffee in Omaha, as well as one of our favorite bakeries.
How They Met: Autumn’s brother actually went to school with Luke, which is how they first met. But it would take three years of growing a friendship and getting to know each other before they actually started dating. They began their relationship shortly before Autumn moved to Tennessee for college, and dated long-distance for two years before getting married. In 2009, the couple moved back to Omaha, and started brainstorming ways to build a life here.
The Dream Job: “My family has always spent time together around food,” says Autumn. “My grandpa was a cook during WWII and then worked in a small bakery in western Nebraska after his service. He taught my mom the tricks of the trade, and she passed those down to me. In general, the woman in my family are amazing cooks and I love the way that good food connects people and acts as an excuse to spend time together. That was our vision for the shop: physical space for our community to spend time.”
Luke and Autumn opened Bliss Bakery in the kitchen of Aromas Coffeehouse in the Old Market. But when the owner of the coffeehouse offered to sell it in 2012, they jumped at the chance. “Coffee and baked goods are such a natural fit,” says Autumn. They began roasting in-house under the name Hardy Coffee Co. in 2015, and today, they own the only shop in Omaha that bakes, roasts and serves each piece of the menu personally. “We love to listen to our regulars and make changes to develop a truly customized experience.”
Why They Love the Neighborhood: “We love the people of Omaha,” says Autumn. “After spending time in a lot of other places, the warmth and work-ethic and character of our neighbors is something special to our hometown. I think there has also been an encouraging revolution toward small business in the last several years. The people of Omaha tend to support local businesses and vote with their dollars to help a small business succeed.”
Relationship Advice: “Get involved in each other’s chaos. It would be a lot easier to run hard in separate directions every day and try to describe the madness and successes of our own jobs, but working together on big projects and consistently choosing to be in each other’s worlds help us to love each other better through the hard times and truly celebrate what would be individual successes otherwise.”
Paul and Jessica Urban | Block 16
Photos courtesy of Block 16
You’ve probably heard of Block 16 before. This wildly popular lunch and dinner concept — owned by husband-and-wife team Paul and Jessica Urban — serves up inventive cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients, and has been featured on our guides to 10 Omaha Restaurants that Make Cheating on Your Diet Totally Worth it, The 20 Most Instagram-Worthy Dishes in Omaha, and the Best Places to Get A Burger in Omaha.
How They Met: They first met in culinary school, and continued a friendship within the industry. After growing their friendship, they decided to pursue a relationship — the rest is history!
The Dream Job: The two both had a strong passion for cooking and entertaining, and a goal for operating a small restaurant. Though they had worked and lived in many cities, they decided to pursue their goal in Omaha. “We believed at the time that Omaha was at the beginning of great culinary growth,” says Jessica. “We wanted to be a part of that group influencing the community and growing within it.”
They strive to maintain perfection in three fundamental areas of their work — quality, consistency and creativity. The couple travels the world to gain inspiration for their dishes, and strives to provide a high quality of work life for the Block 16 employees.
Relationship Advice: “Relationship advice is always difficult to give because each circumstance is different, but respecting each other is one way that we have been able to be successful as a team at work, at home and as parents.”
Photo courtesy of Vincent and Sarah Carlson-Brown
You know Vincent and Sarah as the powerhouse behind Nebraska Shakespeare, a nonprofit dedicated to making the brilliant Shakespeare accessible to all through outdoor performances, classroom presentations and more. The two have both been with the company for nearly 20 years, each working in different capacities.
How They Met: Sarah and Vincent both attended the University of Nebraska, Omaha, both pursuing bachelors’ degrees in theatre. They met backstage at a technical rehearsal for the production of Sweeney Todd. Sarah was an actor standing on a platform, and while moving the platform she was standing on, Vincent looked up to her and jokingly said, “will you marry me?” They were the first words he ever spoke to her, and while they weren’t serious at the time, they seemed to stick. The two were married six years after they met, and now, couldn’t be happier.
The Dream Job: Both Sarah and Vincent have been involved with Nebraska Shakespeare for 18 years — nearly half of their lives! Vincent has worked as a carpenter, sound designer, actor, fight director, and assistant director, but is now the director of shows and artistic director. “I love the hard work,” he says. “The ‘magic’ of theatre isn’t magic, it’s actually a lot of long hours and difficult problems. The magic happens because of the effort from a focused and hardworking individuals.” He also notes that Sarah is his biggest support system. “I find Sarah to be the best person I have ever worked with in the theatre and want to have her around in some capacity on every project I work on, even if it is as an audience member on opening night.”
As for Sarah, she works as the director of education, and is absolutely smitten with theatre and with her job at Nebraska Shakespeare, but especially with the words of Shakespeare himself. “Mostly, I love working with the best text that has ever been written in the English language. Shakespeare is simply the best an artist (or human for that matter) could ask for. His understanding of humanity astounds me upon every reading.”
Relationship Advice From Her: “Support. Support. Support… if you have the support of your partner you will always be able to gain perspective, dust yourself off, and begin again. This support can come in the form of taking over a little extra housework, listening to a late night venting session, or challenging the other to achieve his or her potential.”
From Him: “You have to attend to the personal relationship with intention. Time, communication, effort, compromise and rest are very important. It’s not enough in a relationship to be next to each other in proximity for the entire day — the relationship needs attention outside of the daily grind.”
Photo courtesy of KETV
You’ll recognize Julie and Bill’s faces from your local news station, KETV Omaha. Julie is the main anchorwoman and Bill is chief meteorologist!
How They Met: The couple met while working at WTLV-TV in Jacksonville, Florida. Bill was working there as the weekend meteorologist, and had been there two years when Julie was hired as a reporter. He gave her a couple of weeks to meet people and then asked her out! They eventually got married and moved to Omaha to embrace their midwestern roots.
The Dream Job: The team has been working together at KETV for 25 years. They originally moved for Bill’s job (chief meteorologist), but Julie was hired three months later as a reporter. Over time, Julie worked her way up to morning news anchor, then worked as the 5 pm news anchor, and finally became the main anchor in 1996. She absolutely loves telling stories — even as a little girl in Milwaukee, she always dreamed of being a broadcast reporter. As for Bill? “I love trying to predict the future, which is what I try to do with the weather forecast every day,” he says. “Even with Dual Polarization Radar and supercomputers, it’s certainly a challenge trying to predict weather. Knowing that I will be wrong from time to time keeps me humble!”
Relationship Advice: “Life is what happens while you are busy making plans for the future. Cherish the da- to-day happenings and be sure to enjoy and appreciate what you have right now!”
Photo courtesy of Image Society Inc
Meg and Scott are the owners of Image Society Inc., a local photography company serving the Greater Omaha area. Together, they cover weddings, families and the like. The two have also co-founded a sports photography company, Move Up Images.
How They Met: Meg and Scott met through mutual friends at a local bar. “But it wasn’t as easy as a pick up line and love at first sight,” says Scott. Meg was actually dating someone else at the time, but the two became friends and eventually ended up together. They have now been married for 10 years! “Anything good in life — you have to work at it,” he says.
The Dream Job: They knew they wanted to start a business together almost from the first day of dating. And while Scott was in landscape design, he quickly realized (after gifting Megan several pairs of work gloves — all left untouched), that it might not be a shared passion. He decided to join her as a fellow photographer. Now, they couldn’t be more happy in their careers. He has a knack with people and is able to get a natural, easy expression, and she truly goes out of her way to get to know her subjects. She wants them to feel as comfortable and as beautiful as she possibly can — regardless of the occasion.
“We love working together because there’s a trust between us that we can’t get with anyone else,” says Megan.
Relationship Advice From Her: “Have your own roles in business, and always value your family over your work. Even if the stress of the business comes come with you, make sure to keep your priorities in line.”
From Him: “Communication is key! If we have a complication that is either personal or business related, it makes so much more sense to just get it out in the open.”
Photo courtesy of Jason McClaren
Tom and Lindsey are the husband-and-wife duo behind Vis Major Brewing. They share a passion for craft beer, for people, and for the Omaha community.
How They Met: Tom and Lindsey met 10 years ago at a fitness club. Tom was working there as a personal trainer, and Lindsey was taking sessions with him trying to drop weight for an upcoming wedding. Week after week, the training sessions grew longer — mostly because they were doing more talking than working out. Lindsey fell for him, noting that he “had a sweet side and an infectious laugh.” They moved to Chicago after three months of dating, eventually getting married, and falling in love with craft beer in the process.
The Dream Job: Lindsey was working as an interior designer in Chicago, but shortly after moving to the Windy City, the design industry crashed. She began working as a server, and realized that she enjoyed the freedom of the hospitality industry. A year after the two were married, they started home brewing in their apartment — testing out different recipes and falling deeper in love with the process. They moved back to Nebraska, and she started working under Ryan Penke, the co-founder of Arbella, where she was able to soak in all of the information she could. In the meantime, Tom was dreaming up recipes and perfecting his brewing methods. That’s about the time the idea for Vis Major Brewing was born. The brewery opened last year to immediate success — in fact, it was one of the post popular Omaha openings in 2017.
Relationship Advice from Him: “Understand each others strengths and weakness. Allow your own weaknesses to be balanced by your partners strengths and vice versa.”
From Her: “Take the time to be in the moment with your spouse. Put aside distractions, listen and connect.”
Mike & Cokie Riedmann work together right here at NP Dodge Real Estate. Mike is our fearless president, and Cokie works as a real estate agent.
How They Met: Mike and Cokie are actually high school sweethearts! Their families moved to a new development the same year, and the two ended up going to the same school together in seventh grade. Though they were friends, they didn’t actually start dating until senior prom.
The Dream Job: Mike has been selling real estate since he graduated college, and is entering his 42nd year in the business! Cokie joined the business nine years ago when their four children (and their friends) began buying their first homes. They love working together because they are able to share their perspectives and experiences with each other. Since they both work in the industry, they never bicker over odd hours — and when they have to attend industry functions, they are able to go together!
They’ve lived in Omaha for most of their lives, and absolutely love it for the community aspect. “Omaha is a large small town, and it is easy to know your way around,” says Mike. “People here are friendly and willing to make your acquaintance!”
Relationship Advice: When you work in the same business you need to know how to leave work behind and enjoy your life together away from work.
Love is in the air!
Do you know a couple in the Omaha area who deserves to be recognized? Nominate them in the comments!