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Monday, September 24, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Finicky Frank's Cafe

Finicky Frank's in Ponca Hills.
Just north of Omaha, NE., on the other side of I-680 next to a carwash there is a little place called Finicky Frank's Cafe. Located at 9520 Calhoun Road, which is by the Ponca Hills area population-we™ (pop-we) foodie Michelle found this little gem. Based on a Ponca legend about a man who grew up in a nearby cabin, having picky eating habits and throwing large parties for neighbors and friends. In keeping with the legend Finicky Frank’s uses the freshest ingredients whenever possible.

Finicky Frank’s was established in 2007 at the end of a very small strip mall. It is a small restaurant but cozy with a friendly décor, from my understanding it was recently renovated from a drab shell of a place to what it is today. When we walked in, the first thing that caught my eye was a big, beautiful dark stained bar. As you keep looking about the room, you see some fun paintings that give it that relaxing atmosphere. When dining here, reservations are strongly encouraged since it such a small, popular place.

Finicky Frank’s has daily specials, crafted beers, wine and outdoors seating. The night we dined the daily special was a rib-eye steak with five types of mushroom accompanied by mashed potatoes with an au jus sauce. Three of us ordered the special, once we figured out whose was whose; one was well, one was medium and one was basically raw (I mean rare). From previous posts -- you will know I like mine medium. This steak was absolutely delicious. From the way it was prepared; it was tender, juicy and the mushrooms with the au jus just made it a real treat. Other foodies commented that the onion rings were excellent as were the curry fries.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Finicky Frank’s: 3.975 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Rib-eye steak with mushroom special.
Atmosphere/Decor – 4.33 

Cleanliness – 4.5

Wait Staff – 3.833

Menu – 3.833

Food Presentation – 4

Food Portions – 4.16

Food Taste – 4.25

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.416

Noise Level – 3.33

Overall Experience – 4.08

If you would like more information regarding Finicky Frank’s or just want to check out their menu, go to

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Finicky Franks on Urbanspoon

- population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, September 17, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club Embraces Omaha Restaurant Week 2012

Everyone who reads this blog knows Brian and I like a good meal; especially, a meal prepared by other people. So, we couldn’t hesitate any longer and not share with other population-we™ (pop-we) readers an excuse to eat out in the metro for Omaha Restaurant Week.

Omaha Restaurant Week is a 10-day celebration of the culinary scene in Omaha. The event started Sept. 14 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 23. Participating restaurants offer a three-course dinner for the price of $19, $29 or $39 (not including tax and gratuity). A portion of all proceeds from Omaha Restaurant Week benefit Food Bank for the Heartland.

The Food Bank for the Heartland is the largest food bank in Nebraska and Iowa. The Omaha-based non-profit provides emergency and supplemental food to the people in need in Nebraska and western Iowa. The food bank encompass 93 counties in the two-state region and serves more than 300 after-school programs, food pantries, rehabilitation centers, senior housing sites and emergency shelters.

There are no passes, coupons or tickets required. Visit Omaha Restaurant Week's website here for a list of participating restaurants. Certain restaurants are also collecting monetary donations for Food Bank for the Heartland. Check for a bowl and spoon icon on the restaurant profile to see if the restaurant is a donation site.

Food lovers may simply dine out at as many participating restaurants as they like during the week, enjoy old favorites or explore new dining opportunities. To help our readers decide, there are three restaurants on the list our pop-we Dinner Club has dined at. We've included the restaurants with links to each dinner club review below.

Tussey's Shrimp Scampi

We implore you to eat out and give back now through Sept. 23 at any of the participating restaurants. No matter, where you decide to dine just remember it’s time to dine out for good a cause -- the Food Band of the Heartland.

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown and  Brian Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, September 10, 2012


I think that I finally called my childhood neighbor, Goldie, after yet another recurring dream. The details of the dream may vary, but it always involved my family moving back to our former home where Goldie and her husband Glenn lived next door. I worried that they may feel shunned because we had not made contact with them although we have returned for some time.

I lived next door to Goldie and her husband Glenn from age 3 to 13. Through the stages of early childhood, grade school years, and junior high, I always felt welcome to visit them when they were outside. Reconnecting with Goldie when I became an adult helped me to understand this outgoing and kind woman and her practical philosophies better.

There was a row of neatly stacked outdoor folding chairs that I was welcome to unfold and place by Goldie when she was on her porch. If she was sitting on the porch, her yarn and crochet hook were likely in action. She could do very detailed work and in her life time completed at least two of the scenes of the “Last Supper.” Among her other creations were throws to keep her elderly mother’s legs warm.

Goldie’s hair was white and her styled hair was sometimes kept in place by hair net with beads. As I sat next to her, she would sometimes manicure her nails, and paint them with transparent polish. She may have been in her early 60’s when I was in grade school. I believe she was aware of my grandmother becoming more crippled with rheumatoid arthritis as she told me when she was younger that her arthritis was so bad that she couldn’t raise her arm’s above her head giving me a ray of hope that perhaps my grandmother may improve in a likewise manner.

Goldie seemed to take delight in some of our childish ways. She liked to tell the story of how my brother was told that he had his shoes on the wrong feet when he was small and he promptly replied, “But they are the only feet I have.”

My hardest trial of my happiest childhood years was failing eyesight in the fifth grade. Goldie did find it hard to comprehend my vanity and drama as my brother did not demonstrate such behavior about a year earlier when he got his first pair of glasses. I don’t know how many times through the years I heard the story of her poor eyesight as a young person, and how someone took pity on her and taught her to crochet. She recounted to me how it was like a miracle to see so many details when she received her first pair of glasses. While I would have been quite content in my early stages of myopia not to wear glasses, she may have helped me gain a little perspective and realize that maybe it wasn’t the end of the world.

Somewhere along the way she told of how the lush, deep green yard where we were free to play provided there had been a good rain after her husband treated it with chemicals had once been mainly weeds. Each night they would pull weeds. How I loved playing on the fruits of their labors and practicing my tumbling moves with my brother and sister. When her little grandson would arrive, we often played tag in the yard.

During visits from her grandson, Goldie would sometimes blow bubbles for all of us and we had a running joke, which I think I more than half-believed about the bubbles growing into flowers. In fact, she had some flowers with bulbous blooms that to me were surely from the bubble seeds.

By the chain length fence around my property, Goldie had a row of red geraniums, which I routinely saw her water. From time to time, she and my mom would have a neighborly visit on their respective sides of the fence.

We lived in a middle class neighborhood near the Benson Business District in Omaha, NE. Their home was a modest one story home, which they would later add white siding to the exterior. The back yard was equally as lush and green as the front. Although mature trees lined our yards, it seems like they were picked up immediately in their yard. The front sidewalk was kept clear of any debris. I can still see Goldie in motion sweeping it. Through the years, I don’t think I visited inside much, but I do recall it was tidy. When we had a coffee for the person running for State Senate, she volunteered her sterling silver coffee service for the event.

Her husband, Glenn, welcomed us as well. What I think speaks volumes about the man next door is that she said he was the only man she could see herself living with. They married at a mature age and the doctor told she would not have a child. When she conceived, she was told the baby would not be carried to term. She defied the odds and gave birth to a fine baby boy.

After she was widowed, it was arranged for her to move into an apartment at the Maple Crest Nursing Home across from Benson West Grade School in Omaha. She seemed very comfortable with this new community where I think some of the residents were also members of the Benson Baptist Church where she played the organ or piano for many years. Her musical keyboard was moved to her apartment. When she required more skilled care, she was moved to the nursing home. While at Maple Crest, donations of yarn were put to good use by her as she made mats for an animal shelter. She admitted that she would rather be creating something to be used by a person.

As an adult, I asked Goldie why she was so encouraging to me about doing school work when I murmured about homework. She said very pragmatically that you have to do things in life that you don’t want to do. During the course of one conversation, she learned it was my day off from work and informed me how the children in their family would make sure a meal was ready when her mom was spending the day in the garden.

Goldie really described herself best during one of our adult conversations when she said,” I am a people person.” I am not sure how much I buy into the theory of archetypes or typical examples of personality types. Yet, I wish there were someone with all the lovely traits of Goldie next door to every child the world over.

- population-we blog post by Barb Bohan 
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Baseball Blogger Offers Insight into his Skin Cancer Battle, Gives Kudos to MLB Play Sun Smart

Summer begins to wind down as the baseball season enters its final weeks. This summer players and fans have endured several days of record temperatures. There is one group of players that offers a message of additional caution needed for those out in the sun.

Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics was the spokesperson for Play Sun Smart in 2011 when I first heard of the program. Play Sun Smart is a joint effort between the American Academy of Dermatology, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Their mission is to raise skin cancer awareness and to promote sun-safe practices. Braden had a close tie to the cause after losing his mother to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The 2012 spokesperson for Play Sun Smart is MLB Hall of Fame member Johnny Bench, who was one of my childhood heroes. Bench brings his own story to the cause after being diagnosed and treated for basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer. In June, Bench was helping raise skin cancer awareness in New York while meeting with youth from the Harlem RBI program. It is very important to spread the message to all ages so being sun smart is part of every one's daily life.

The message Play Sun Smart has special meaning to me because seven years ago I was diagnosed and treated for melanoma. I was concerned about a growth on my right pectoral and my doctor at the time wasn't concerned about it. But I wasn't convinced and made an appointment with another doctor in the practice and got a referral to see a dermatologist. It turned out to be a melanoma and took two surgeries to remove all traces of it.

Initially I had follow ups with my dermatologist every four months and have had multiple moles and spots of concern removed over those first few years. Some had abnormal cells that were deemed to be precancerous. Luckily it has been a couple years since any biopsies have been necessary as I now see my dermatologist twice a year. The last check up was the last week of July and I gave a relieved exhale as I left the appointment.

My body is riddled with numerous scars that it looks like I was caught in the cross fire at the OK Corral. Yet I would trade any number of scars in exchange for more time with my daughters. In the meantime, I also try to be sun smart and where sun block and minimize my sun exposure as much as possible. I got a new straw hat for Father's Day and it was one of the best gifts ever.

Play Sun Smart is just one of many charities that MLB has ties to but it is the one that means the most to me. The importance of their message cannot be stressed enough. It may be fun in the sun but you have to be smart about how you do it.

- population-we blog post by John Bohan
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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