Charleston’s offers crowd-pleasing menu, atmosphere
Fifteen years after opening, Charleston’s at 137th and West Dodge Road still gets lines out the door over the lunch hour. A suburban favorite, the casual dining restaurant offers crowd-pleasing dishes, a versatile menu and prices that fit any budget.
“I can go out to dinner with my wife at Charleston’s, have a filet mignon and a glass of wine, and she can have a salad and soda. Or I can have a burger and a beer, and she can have a nice smoked salmon and a glass of wine,” said Tom Kuzala, general manager.
Charleston’s knows what people like to eat and how they like to dine. The restaurant embraces diners in an intimate, masculine atmosphere with low lighting and dark woods. An impressive bar area beckons guests to grab a stool and stay through happy hour.
Despite the elegant atmosphere, Charleston’s remains a come-as-you-are, casual restaurant, Kuzala said. “We don’t have a gimmick,” he said. “Our gimmick is our food and our service.”
Kuzala and staff pay attention to the finer details of the dining experience. The restaurant uses a team service model with multiple staff tending to guests’ needs over the course of the meal. The team ensures guests are greeted, drinks stay full and the food is impeccable.
Customer favorites include the short-smoked salmon, marinated in soy sauce, orange juice and ginger and lightly smoked for just a hint of smoky flavor. The slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs are also popular. The ribs are cooked 12 hours overnight over low heat for the ultimate in tenderness. Diners have claimed they are among the best ribs in town, Kuzala said.
Rounding out the menu are several burgers and sandwiches all around $10. Salads are also favorites, like the spinach and chicken Waldorf or Walt’s champagne chicken salad. The restaurant also offers a substantial gluten-free menu and kids menu.
Kuzala has served as general manager of the West Omaha location for about a year, and he brings a wealth of hospitality experience to the job. His first foray into the business was in high school in Michigan, when he took a job clearing tables at a Big Boy restaurant. In college, he worked as a cook and later trained to be a chef. Coming up through the back of the house, he’s able to lend a hand when the Charleston’s crowd gets crazy. “I spent lunch cooking on the grill a few weeks ago,” he said.
Buoyed by the success of the West Omaha restaurant, a second Charleston’s location opened last August at 76th and Dodge and has seen brisk business from midtowners.
Kuzala said it’s easy to see that Omaha is a restaurant town. Good restaurants stay busy, he said, and there are a lot of busy restaurants. That fact motivates him and his staff to offer exemplary service and a quality product. “Our focus is over-the-top service and food,” he said.
Charleston’s is open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
13851 FNB Parkway