Growing up, it seemed unlikely that Jaclyn DiGiacomo Oltmans and her brothers Mike and Dominic DiGiacomo would collaborate on four successful business ventures in Omaha, but Omaha sippers are grateful they did. Through their business Social Holdings, they are current owners of unique establishments Blackstone Social, Social, and Segreto, and the siblings, along with their new partners Thuc and Jen Tran, recently debuted Sips on 10th, a sparkling spot in the heart of Omaha’s Little Italy.
Given the family’s history in the neighborhood, Sips general manager and owner Oltmans was keen on the former Joe Banana’s location from the start (the family celebrated their patriarch’s 80th birthday at the long-time Omaha bar and eatery). “I believe the neighborhood is thriving,” Oltmans said. “When we bought the property, the former owner was adamant about the new space bringing revitalized energy to the area.”
According to Oltmans, champagne is the fasting growing beverage segment among imbibers age 25 – 54. That fact, coupled with her experience living in larger markets like Chicago, inspired Oltmans to embrace and then hone a champagne concept that would thrive in Omaha. The team wanted to bring a lively, yet affordable, champagne bar to their beloved neighborhood by serving global sips paired with heavy hors d’Oeuvres.
Celebratory vibes and a relaxed air imbue the spacious yet cozy space, with a seating style for everyone. Patrons seeking a buzzing social vibe flock to the 360-degree-square bar area, perfect for meeting someone new, chatting with staff, or catching up with old friends. Others prefer the slower, quieter casual dining pace of the low-top tables on the lower area, and three garage doors open off the lower level to reveal a spacious outdoor courtyard. According to Oltmans, Sips has hosted wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties, and more. “People are making memories at our establishment; we love to hear and share in their joy.”
The clever “Something to Sip” menu features approachable red and white wines, sparkling wines, and champagnes by the glass or bottle. Oltmans favors interesting bottles from around the world. “The cool thing about Sips is we have sparkling wine from California, Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, high-end French bottles like Dom Perignon and Krug, and everything in between. Prices are reasonable—I didn’t want it to be a pretentious champagne bar.”
Shareable plates such as charcuterie with olives and nuts, flatbreads, or a big Bavarian pretzel foster a sense of merriment, inviting guests to linger over time with friends and family. Fans of Caniglia’s Venice Inn can get their nostalgic escargot fix, and gouda is good here in the form of two dishes: an elevated mac and cheese and draped over tender Angus beef caramelized onion sliders served on soft, sweet rolls. To sate heartier appetites, larger plates such as beef medallions with rice and asparagus or the lamb lollipops (lamb chops) are available.
The cocktail menu is equally creative, allowing customers to fizz or not fizz. Highlights include the Aperol Flip—Sips’ take on an Aperol spritz that is dry shaken with egg white to make it rich and frothy. Another option is a twist on the classic Champagne Cocktail—a single sugar cube in the bottom of a flute doused in bitters and topped with champagne. Over the course of the evening, the sugar cube dissolves and provides a sweet kick to cut through the fizz. “From the Champagne Margarita to bourbon with bubbles, I would say our cocktail bubbles list is not something you see very often,” Oltmans said.
A self-professed “people person,” Oltmans adores her job. She shared, “I love going down to Sips and meeting all the people that come in and hearing their stories, whether they are getting on a train, going to the airport, or popping in from just down the street.” The owner especially appreciates seeing the amazement on the faces of neighborhood people who have witnessed the entire transformation from Joe Banana’s to Sips on 10th.
“I want everyone who visits to be comfortable and feel like they can stop in whether they are celebrating a birthday or an engagement,” she said. “I want them to feel like ‘this is a place I want to return to.’” Prices are set to encourage trying new things, and staff enjoys educating patrons on beverage offerings, especially the champagne and sparkling wines.
The Little Italy community is important to Oltmans, so she is developing a dedicated Little Italy business association for the many businesses continuing to pop up in the area. Exchanges with nearby theater Blue Barn and the Omaha Performing Arts are key, and Oltmans hopes to soon form a relationship with the Western Heritage Museum.
Sips on 10th is open Monday through Thursday 4pm to midnight; Friday 2pm to 2am; Saturday 10am to 2am for brunch and dinner, and Sunday 10am to 4pm for brunch. The weekend brunches feature items such as lemon ricotta pancakes, mimosas, sangria, and Little Italy eggs benedict, all of which can be enjoyed this summer in the sunny courtyard.
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