OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Dena's Place is now open and this new business and cocktail bar is shaking things up inside the Highlander Accelerator Dining Room. It is the first African American owned and operated food court in Omaha.
"North Omaha has that stigma of, 'If I go down there I am going to get hurt or robbed.' To show a beautiful facility in a safe environment where anyone can come down here and enjoy great food, great drinks, that is the vision here," said Seneca Harrison, owner of Dena's Place.
The location is also historic. The Accelerator was built on the grounds of the old Hilltop housing project, which was torn down in 1995.
"This is where my aunt stayed, my mom stayed here for a minute and to come back and own a business on the same grounds as the projects, it is just an amazing opportunity," added Seneca.
The Dining Room is located here inside the Highlander Accelerator in North Omaha, right off of 30th Street. This is also an area that is booming with brand new apartment buildings as well as townhomes.
The Dining Room is home to Big Mama's Kitchen, Best Burger and Dena's Place.
Along with being a place to get good food, they are also serving up a different outlook.
"A lot of kids come by and they are really surprised when I tell them I am the owner and that is why I can give them free chips, hopefully, they can take that and hopefully find something they would like to do," said Allah, the owner of Best Burger
"I didn't go to college, I am actually a plumber. I went to trade school. I want to show kids that look like me or who came from an area like North Omaha, South Omaha — or anywhere in the city — that hard work and determination can get you a long way in this world," added Seneca.
Dena's Place was named after Seneca's mom, who was the daughter of the original creator of Big Mama's Kitchen.
"When you lose your parent, it weighs heavily on you, and now I hear everyone saying her name all the time and it is just a constant reminder and a great thing to see my mother's name out there like that," continued Harrison.
If you pop in, be sure to order a Dena's Cosmopolitan
When it comes to racial equality, generational wealth has eluded a good portion of the minority population.
"It feels really good to be able to pass the legacy that my mom started down to other generations of our family, this is something that not many African Americans get to do this country. To pass the legacy of wealth down or business down. We are really excited and feel so blessed and so thankful that we have this opportunity for Big Mama's and Dena's place to be around for generations to come," says Gladys Harrison, Owner of Big Mama's Kitchen.
With the memory of his grandmother, Big Mama and her daughter, Dena, Seneca's mom —
he says the building is more like a second home and they invite everyone to eat with them in their dining room.
Seneca added, "Growing up, under them and seeing how they threw parties, I brought that concept here. I wanted it to be a family-like atmosphere, good drinks, and with Best Burger and Big Mama's Kitchen providing great food. The combination of both with live music, D.J.'s, every Friday and Saturday, we will have that party atmosphere that is a family setting like a barbecue or a family reunion."
The business owners inside the Accelerator are looking to start an "Entrepreneur Wednesday." The think tank will include investors as well as other business owners to help people develop their ideas.
The Dining Room r is located in North Omaha at 2112 n. 30th St., at the corner of 30th & Patrick, just south of Lake street.