By Kyle Eustice
Brother’s Lounge isn’t a bar. It’s an institution. Founded by the Firmature brothers in 1968, it’s located on 38th and Farnam Street in Midtown Omaha. It’s the perfect place to escape the douchebag crowds you often find at “swanky” nightclubs around the Metro area. Owned by Trey Lalley and his wife Lallaya since 2003, Brother’s isn’t your typical dive bar. Of course, there are a couple of pool tables and a few pinball machines, but on its infamous Jukebox, you’ll find The Cramps, The Buzzcocks, The Clash, and other classic punk rock thrown in with the occasional Pixies album. Ultimately, the Jukebox is based on the Lalleys’ good taste.
“We’re pretty selfish about that,” Trey Lalley says. “It’s just stuff me and Lallaya both like. She can veto me, but I rarely veto her. It’s stuff we think is new, fresh, old, good—just different. Lallaya found this post new wave punk band from France called The Frustrations. It’s basically whatever we’re into at the time being.”
While there isn’t a ton of information about the bar available online, Yelp reviews are particularly entertaining.
According to someone named Ryan, “The Brother’s Lounge is a unique joint for anywhere, particularly for Omaha. Have you ever walked up to a jukebox and thought, ‘I’m sick of Bon Jovi. I would like to listen to Bad Brains?’ This is still the only bar I’ve ever been to where you could do exactly that. And no one would bat a fake eyelash. Overall, this is a very cool crowd that covers the generation span. I’ve had some very cool conversations with people here, who I normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with. On a given night, you could have your local straightedge punks, Creighton preppies, UNMC medical students, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, plus girls from Omaha Roller Derby in the same bar. It’s like no other place in Omaha.”
Another one by one Matthis H. had this to say about Brother’s: The Jukebox is full of jams. Is that ‘unpunk’ to use the word jams? Probably. The owners were pouring the drinks during my visit and pouring them quite nicely. The vibe was awesome, the price was right, and the doorman called us a cab at the end of the night (he was way nice). I had never been to Omaha before, but I will for sure hit Brother’s again.
Of course, you can’t please everyone and this guy may even have a point. Curtis L. had this to say about the well-loved neighborhood bar: “Quiet. Cheap Pabst. Owners are cool. But man, do these Omaha kids think they are hip. Congratulations on latching onto the tail end of a 10-year-old fashion trend. Luckily, hipsters don’t usually cause a scene until the skinniest, trendiest guy there has had enough to drink that he decides to get masculine about some retarded indie band being disrespected. This bar is great, minus the expectation of hip. The owner is not a hipster.”
Well said Curtis. Trey is definitely not a hipster. But he is damn good bartender, which keeps people coming back.
“People are quick to throw out compliments when they’ve been drinking,” he jokes. “We run a pretty consistent establishment. People know what we offer, it’s not too pretentious and not too in your face. It’s just a nice place to hang out. Of course, there’s a downside to this business, but we stay on top of it pretty well. If I think somebody has had too much to drink, I’m more than happy to send them away.”
While the occasional band pops up in the bigger room of Brother’s, it’s few and far between.
“We don’t have bands play here a whole lot,” he says. “There are so many other great venues for music that it’s kind of nice to be the place where people can go, ‘well, we know there’s not a band at Brother’s tonight. Let’s go to Brother’s.’ We have some great shows that come through. It’s just really good hand picked stuff. Somebody will bring us a show that will seem right or some friends of ours will want to play here.”
Brother’s website is currently partly under construction, but once it’s fully up and running, it will provide the “Spotlight Drinks of the Month,” “Jukebox Challenge,” “Upcoming Events,” and a photo gallery, which is already live. Brother’s is open Monday thru Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and closed on Sundays.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” he says. “We just bought new bar stools. We’re putting money into the place and trying to keep the shine going. We try to keep people active and off their phones and into each other.”
Check out www.brothersloungeomaha.com for more information.