For co-owner Jonathan Taylor, Sand Point is more than a place to grab a tasty bite, it’s a nostalgic nod to his growing-up years, a way to give back to the community he loves, and a cozy spot for east-coast transplants to enjoy a taste of home.
The new Omaha eatery, located in the former Julio’s location at 114th and Dodge, is named after the road in Bar Harbor, Maine, where Taylor happily spent childhood summers at his grandparents’ cabin. An array of New England dishes adorns the menu, including silky lobster bisque, buttery Connecticut-style lobster rolls, crispy haddock sandwiches, and sweet fluffernutters.
Taylor, an accomplished chef and instructor, landed in Omaha when his wife Brittany began her post-doctorate work at Boys Town National Hospital. Soon, Taylor’s parents Bonnie and Chris also relocated to the area, and the crew became the proud new owners of the Modern Waffle, followed quickly by Three Kids Lobster, both popular Omaha food trucks docked at Trucks & Taps.
It was the success of the lobster truck that sparked the idea for a brick-and-mortar New England eatery to satisfy Omaha’s craving for New England cuisine. Taylor shared, “We love Omaha so much, people here have been incredible to us both professionally and personally.”
The kitchen is helmed by seasoned local chef Marcus Jones, whose 20-plus years of experience started at the Pizza Shoppe in Benson as a dishwasher and pizza dough roller. After pursuing his culinary degree at Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts, Jones took on the Sous Chef role at Benson bar 1912, where he mastered the intricacies of running a kitchen.
Working the sauté station for years taught Jones to shift quickly between focused tasks and the big picture, and an affinity for Japanese culture honed his attention to fine detail and respect for quality ingredients. The seasoned chef finds joy in teaching and relishes his role as leader, “I am so proud of this kitchen crew. They are very strong and really diverse in what they do,” explained Jones.
Taylor credits Yountville, California, chef Bob Hurley with ensuring he possessed the skills necessary to accomplish the many tasks required to manage a successful establishment. Taylor continued, “In addition to teaching me to avoid falling into the trap of anger when things went awry, he gave me the confidence I needed and shortcut my career by years because I got to see all the workings behind the curtain.”
Specialty ingredients are sourced from a variety of purveyors, including H. Olafsson locally. “We have a unique menu that offers items that aren’t being served in other restaurants in Omaha, which I think is really wonderful,” Taylor said. “Our Sous Chef Chloe Johnson is incredibly talented and works in lock step with Chef Marcus Jones to improve the quality and plating of every dish that leaves our kitchen.”
Providing stellar service is paramount to both front and back of house. “I want diners to feel like they are at home, honestly,” shared Jones. “Come hungry, leave full, and feeling like they got a good bargain. We see lots of people that migrate here from New England. If I can remind them of home, it’s the most important thing to me.”
Bar Manager Kristopher Liedel, a 20-year industry veteran, is passionate about thoughtful and creative cocktail development. “We are always looking to combine those harmonious flavor notes into one chord where each individual note contributes to the greater whole.” Palate considerations include tart, sweet, salty, and rich, all designed to harmonize with the dishes.
Liedel and his team strive to hit these notes with their expansive beverage program. In addition to several taps, two nitro taps allow unique expressions such as the local English mild 12 Million Miles Per Minute offering from Site-1 Brewing.
The cocktail list includes global offerings such as the Kachelofen (“tiled oven” in German), a warming blend of Islay whisky, Grand Marnier, and Amaro. For those who prefer not to imbibe, bartender Sarah Carr offers a carefully crafted mocktail menu featuring creative use of infused teas, dried flowers, and egg whites.
The wine list includes classic offerings alongside quirky bottles and interesting whites by the glass such as Albariño and Bordeaux blanco (of sentimental significance to Taylor and his family is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, served at his and Brittany’s wedding). In addition to standards, the red list features a shout-out to upstate New York winery Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Cabernet Franc.
The restaurant’s fresh space with brightly-colored booths features seaside photos and an abundance of natural light, resembling the ambiance of an east-coast lighthouse. The cozy New England fare is perfect for cold Nebraska days and nights, so be sure to stop in for a bowl of lobster bisque or a mulled apple cider cocktail to warm up this winter.
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