Charlie Yin says owning restaurants is in his family’s blood.
His grandparents owned restaurants in San Francisco, China and Korea. The Imperial Palace, which opened in 1978 as one of Omaha’s first Chinese restaurants, was his family’s project. And in the early 2000s, his uncle Milton started the first Hiro 88, a sushi restaurant that also offers Chinese food, with three locations in Omaha and a West Haymarket site at Sixth and R streets in Lincoln.
“My mom’s dad actually died in his restaurant,” Yin said.
In 2009, the culinary calling brought Yin, an Omaha native, back from New York City, where he spent nine years working in finance. Now he helps run his family’s company, the 88 Management Group, with Milton.
Yin envisioned its newest offering: Local Beer, Patio and Kitchen, a mix of a sports bar, gastropub and craft beer joint that highlights Nebraska brewers. Since its founding in 2015, Local has grown to two locations in Omaha and one at the Nebraska Crossing Outlets near Gretna.
Now the Yin family is keeping up its restaurateur tradition with a culinary triple threat — a new south Lincoln facility that houses its second Hiro 88 in Lincoln, its first Local in the city and 5168 Brewing, the company’s first-ever brewery.
The new location near 56th Street and Pine Lake Road opened Jan. 17 and represents the company’s debut in south Lincoln, mixing two of the Yin family’s most-reliable offerings with an adventurous new direction.
“We thought it would make a great spot,” Yin said. “It’s a little underserved — like, when you look around, what’s open past 8 or 9 o clock on a standard night? There’s not a lot here. So we thought it would be a great place to house both of our concepts.”
At more than 12,000 square feet, the entire facility at 5730 Hidcote Dr. is twice as large as any of 88 Management’s restaurants. Hiro 88 and Local share an outdoor patio space, which can accommodate 180 people.
The company first sought to move into south Lincoln after hearing recommendations from customers. Yin says the landowners and developers — the Campbell family, which owns the nearby nurseries, and Manzitto Bros. Real Estate — approached them about the spot.
“We definitely see the potential for the area,” Yin said.
The new Hiro 88 location is about 50 seats larger than its other locations. In addition to its sushi offerings, it uses the original recipes from Imperial Palace, which opened a Lincoln location in 1982.
Milton Yin's original concept had a slow start, which led to the family adding cooked Chinese food options.
"You try to feed raw fish to Nebraskans back in the early 2000s; it wasn't flying," Charlie Yin said. "We had the idea to add Chinese to the menu and that really broadened the demographic."
Local came from Yin’s vision for a more-approachable craft beer option, one that caters to casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike, with a full restaurant menu.
The bar’s name reflects its core mission.
“We wanted there to be something that supported the local economy, that was really important to us,” Yin said.
Local currently features beer from nearly two dozen Nebraska breweries, including Kinkaider Brewing, Scratchtown, Farnam House and others.
The new 5168 Brewing represents Local’s first foray into the local brewing scene that it has promoted since its founding in 2015.
“You want to have credibility as a craft beer establishment, as well as produce a good product,” Yin said.
It launched its first product, New Beginnings IPA, on Saturday. It’s got a tropical twist, with Meridian and Falconer’s Flights hops, giving hints of pineapple and mango. It’s a product of 5168’s brewer, Brian Hoesing, a longtime, award-winning home brewer from O’Neill.
“The hops are pretty readily available, so it’s not like a bank breaker from that standpoint, as far as some of the newer type hops,” Hoesing said of the new brew. “But it still gives a lot of those tropical, citrus notes.”
Yin found Hoesing while visiting Kinkaider Brewing in Broken Bow as part of a video series that Local does highlighting local brewers. The guys at Kinkaider had met Hoesing, who toured there for his 40th birthday, and told Yin about him. Yin met him and was impressed with his work.
Hoesing and 5168 are working on several other products, including an Asian lager that’s meant to pair with Hiro 88. The company is holding a grand-opening charity event, where all proceeds go to TeamMates mentoring program, Monday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., with tickets available at eventbrite.com.
Looking to the future, Yin says Local still has room to grow in Lincoln, and guessed that it could open one or two more bars in the city. In fact, Yin would love to expand the Local concept nationally, highlighting beers in each state where it sets up.
“If we took Local out of state, we would always put, like, five taps aside that were Nebraska beers,” he said.