Lisa Winchester moved to Nebraska in September and was looking for a house.

Instead, she came across a bar.

Winchester, who moved to Lincoln from Seattle to be closer to her daughter and granddaughters, found a real estate listing online for the former 501 Bar & Grill location at 501 W. A St. when she was looking for a place to live.

Her daughter, Melissa Kesler, has several years of experience as a bartender and always wanted to give owning her own bar a shot, so mom and daughter went into business together and leased the space.

"So we don't have a house, but we have a bar," Winchester said.

The new bar, called Braska Bar & Grill, is set to open Monday.

Winchester said it will be "just your typical bar and grill."

The bar has pool tables, dart boards and also hopes to host live bands, something previous bars in the spot have done.

As for food, Winchester said offerings from the grill will be fairly minimal to start out with, but "we'll grow into it."

Despite the name, Winchester said there won't be a focus on Husker football, although the bar does have TVs and they will likely be tuned to Nebraska games in the fall. On Sundays, though, expect to see Seattle Seahawks games, Winchester said, as both she and her daughter are fans.

Winchester and Kesler have been working on cleaning up and remodeling the space for a couple of months, and Winchester said there has been a lot of interest from people who live and work in the area, some of whom have stopped by while the two have been at the bar cleaning.

The small Village Square shopping center is close to the South Bottoms and South Salt Creek neighborhoods, in an area that doesn't have a lot of commercial services.

But that is changing, as Braska Bar isn't the only new business in the area.

The Wah Wah Family Asian Market opened in the shopping center in February in a space formerly occupied by a fitness center, and its owner is planning to open a restaurant called Seyo Thai Restaurant next month in a spot that used to host a catering company.

Sarkapru Soe opened the market shortly after moving to Lincoln from Omaha, where she had been helping her brother run an Asian market.

Soe, who is originally from Burma and has lived in the U.S. for 14 years, said she saw the location as a good one because the only grocery store in the area is the Russ's Market at Coddington Avenue and West South Street, and the closest Asian market is several miles away.

Soe said she used the same logic when deciding to open the restaurant, as the closest Thai restaurant is downtown.

The center has been anchored for years on its east end by a convenience store, but even that has changed recently. What for years was the Jackpot Convenience Store was bought out a couple of years ago by Super C.

Other than a Casey's General Store across West A Street, Village Square has the only retail businesses in the area, which stretches along A Street from about West Third to West Seventh streets.

The rest of the area is mostly populated by industrial businesses, including Lester Electric, Ray's Lawn Care and Von Busch & Sons Refuse, as well as self-storage units and a car wash.

Gary Nichelson has owned Village Square for 12 years and has had trouble in the past keeping tenants at the center, but he said he's excited about all the new businesses.

"We have some good tenants, and I like to think they'll be there a long time," he said. "I hope the neighborhood supports them."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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