Bud Olson’s Bar, Omaha — REVIEW
Hit That Dive

Bud Olson’s Bar, Omaha — REVIEW

3207 Leavenworth Street

Omaha NE 68105
Oh, where to start with this one. Let’s start with the ending first…Hit This Dive! Now, let’s backtrack shall we?  Not too long after I first started writing this rinky-dink blog, the grand total of five HTD readers decided to meet up one Saturday afternoon at Bud’s for a bar crawl down Leavenworth Street. 
Those who have been around HitThatDive for a while will remember that was the first Spring Stumble.  So already that means this place holds a spot near and dear to the history of HTD.  Which is why the following string of events on Facebook caught me a little off guard.  
After mentioning that there would be a review of Bud Olson’s, I received nothing but positive feedback from everyone except for these two messages from the same person.  Comment one: “Oh and on ST. PATTY’s day if you talk ish on the bar dont let me see ya there”. Which was then punctuated by a follow up post that simply stated “Stay the hell out west”. 

April 2011. The first “Spring Stumble”
Well, now…that’s kind of a buzz-kill for a place that I actually like, but had yet to review. Undaunted, I decided to move on writing about Bud’s and hope for the best, or at the very least, I guess I’ll stay clear of here on St. Patrick’s Day just to stay safe. 
Of note…when confronted with a dangerous situation in a bar, just like Grady from Sanford and Son, I practice the oldest form of self defense…runnin’!
PROS: Cheap prices. Like, super cheap. It’s a dive bar…and happy to be one. Opens at 6:00 am

CONS: Regulars are a bit put off by strangers. 

First Impressions:  If you ever wondered what Bud’s looks like on the inside, it pretty much matches the outside that you’ve see driving past it on Leavenworth.  Simply put, it’s nothing fancy. And, if you’re not really into dive bars, just keep driving. If you decide to walk in the front door, you’ll immediately be greeted by an old barber chair, and an almost library-like reading area. The promise of cheap beer, and a little light reading…so far so good.   
The other thing you’ll  notice is that Bud’s seems to go on for a quarter of a mile to reach the back of the building.  For what it lacks in width, it more than makes up for it in depth. That’s what she said.

Looks like a dive

The Bar: I took a seat toward the end of the bar on a barstool so lopsided that I might have had an easier time riding a bull when I was drunk. Yet, it didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, when I’m in a bar like Bud’s, I think that I’d be disappointed if the stool wasn’t a bit wobbly.

The bar itself might be on the of the longest in Omaha, as best as I could tell, it was roughly the length of two full sized shuffleboard tables.  
Do yourself a favor, and take the time to walk to the pool area in Bud’s and checkout a few notable things including two seats from the original Busch Stadium, a handwritten sign about what makes this place a legitimate dive bar, and the general collection of vintage things (including telephones) all over the walls.  
Do I usually talk about beer selection in this part?  I haven’t written one of these in so long I forget my own format.  Beer. Yes, they have some including Busch, Busch Light, Sam Adams and PBR on tap.  Of note, this might be the oldest bar I’ve ever been in that has a giant skylight right above the bar stools. Now, it doesn’t really seem to emit any real sunlight…but it’s there nonetheless.

Who needs a trim?

The Crowd: I got there around 10:00 am on a Friday and there were already at least 10 (or so) people in the bar, all dudes.  I tried striking up a conversation with a few people to my left and was, literally, given the cold shoulder.  One guy that sat down to my right helped play along guessing the prices on The Price is Right with me.  Ultimately, we ended up placing bets on “The Rat Race Game”, not one that I’ve ever seen in the Price is Right before. Oh, and Drew Carey sucks as the host. 

In a way, Bud’s is like a diner without food at the point of the day. There were as many people coming in and ordering coffee, while reading the paper, as there were denigrates like me drinking beer at 10 in the morning.  Of note, I did write down at 10:59, this was a bar of people pretty much doing their own thing with no drama. And, that everyone seemed pretty jovial…even if they didn’t chat much with the stranger sucking down Busch Light draws.

The cold shoulder!

Service: I never did get his name, but I’m pretty sure it was Tom Olson working behind the bar the morning I was there. If there’s a reason to hang out here for a bit, other than dirt cheap prices, it’s Tom’s welcoming personality.  Now, we didn’t really talk about all that much, he was busy talking with a few people that I assume are in there on a daily basis.

And even though the regulars don’t really make you feel all that welcome, Tom gave off a vibe that it was more than cool with him if I just hung out there all day. Not once did my glass get close to empty, so thanks Tom, that was first class service you were handing out, even to the new guy.

Prices:  I was paying $1.25 for 10 ounce draw.  Some of the other prices that I saw for domestic beer was $1.60 pints, $3.25 mini-pitchers and $5.50 for “large” pitchers.  I didn’t get the prices of anything else. Normally, by this point I would have struck up a conversation with someone to pry a little bit about the overall prices of drinks.  Clearly that wasn’t going to happen on this day, so from best I can tell, be ready for your drinking money to last you a lot longer than usual when you’re here.


Food:  Some of the best fra gras I have ever had! That’s a lie for two reasons…one I don’t know what “fra gras” is, I just saw it on the news.  And two…they don’t have food here. But someone must have quite the sweet tooth because I counted more than 12 different kinds of chocolate bars right next to the collection of hot cashews and “fancy” nuts (giggle).

Entertainment: Well, if betting on Price is Right with a stranger isn’t stimulating enough for you…there’s a jukebox, pool table, gumball machine and a pay phone that has a three minute limit on it.  Plan your booty calls accordingly, gents.

There’s a door back here too

Restrooms:  I can only comment on what I saw…and they weren’t all that bad. Seriously.  Now, decades of bad aim around the floor of the urinal has begun to show a bit, but for the record, I have been in WAY worse men’s rooms that this one at bars that are much newer.  Met can’t aim, wood gets stained. Not much else to say on this one.

Bartender Chat:  Talk about hearing one of the most unexpected conversations I ever expected to eavesdrop on while I was in Bud Olson’s, Tom was giving a pretty detailed description of the, and I quote, “Vegan mushroom gravy” he had just made, or was making for someone. Show of hands…who would have guessed they talk about vegan food in Bud Olson’s…I’ll wait.

Honestly, I’ve seen WAY worse

How Far Did My $20 Go?: Well, I only had time for four beers, so I was out a whopping $5.25. I may have stayed longer to see if I could strike up a conversation with someone, but had to move on down the road to eat some pretty bad BBQ in Council Bluffs.  Next time I’m here, I just might tie a pork chop around my neck to see if I at least can strike up a conversation with a stray dog that might happen by.

Even that dude abandoned me

Final Impressions:  The techie nerds will get this reference “WYSIWYG”. Basically, what you see, is what you get. Bud Olson’s has been around a long time serving regulars that want to come in, hang out, and talk among  themselves. Nothing to fault there. That’s the beauty of the difference between bars…no two are ever the same.  In fairness to anyone affiliated with Bud’s, anytime anyone directly associated with the bar has written anything to me it has always been genuine and sincere…which is why I’ll continue to stop in here once in a while. Well, when I’m not staying “the hell out West”.

If you enjoy real, old-school dive bars, by all means stop by here and hang out for an afternoon. If you just want to go somewhere to say you’ve been in a dive bar before you hightail it back to a place like The Parliament Pub, good luck with that.

I’m going to refrain from giving Bud’s an actual score number, I’ll leave that up to you…the readers of HitThatDive…to do that for me in the comments section below.  As I said at the beginning of this, and now at the end, Hit This Dive.  But do it just every so cautiously around the regulars. 

(You Make The Call)

Bud Olson’s Bar

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