Local chef to open farm-to-table eatery in Fremont

1 month ago Fremont Tribune

A Fremont-native who has been a professional chef in restaurants in Omaha is bringing his culinary talents home with a new farm-to-table restaurant he and his wife plan to open in April.

Chef Drew Statz and his wife, Michelle – who is herself a pastry chef and sommelier – are in the final stages of plans to open a new farm-to-table restaurant. Set to be located in downtown Fremont, the eatery will showcase pasta, wines and feature a robust menu that changes daily and is filled with local Nebraska meats, cheese, produce and other products.

Currently the head chef at Omaha joint Dante Pizzeria, Chef Drew said he and Michelle hope to open the doors of “Semo Pasta+Wine” at 414. N. Main St., by mid-April. The restaurant will only be open for dinner service from Wednesday through Sunday each week.

“We’re in the old Reinita’s location. I am from Fremont, my wife and I live there now. We just want to open a little restaurant for the community with nice food for the community. It is European-inspired Nebraska cuisine. It will feature a lot of local produce, working with local Nebraska farms, and showcase a lot of pastas,” Drew said. “My family has a cattle farm out west in Imperial, Nebraska, which they’ve owned since 1885. I would argue that some of the best beef I’ve ever had is right here in our neighboring cities.

Statz said he and his wife along with the staff will source produce from local farms in Dodge and surrounding counties, including having a special lettuce that is hand-cut daily for the restaurant, among other vegetable goodies.

“I would also argue that I could buy carrots from a field in Mexico, or I could buy way better carrots grown locally,” he explained. “The idea is the community supports itself. Why would I buy produce in Mexico when I can get beautiful produce locally? And it is better.”

The restaurant is expected to seat as many as 50 people, with a “small and fun” atmosphere, Drew added. He said the couple is awaiting state approval of the liquor license for the eatery.

“My wife, she is a sommelier and is also a pastry chef. She is my No. 2 in the restaurant and she is incredible,” Drew said of Michelle. “We are really at the mercy of whatever is available (food-wise). We will print new menus each day based on what the farms deliver to us. That will dictate what the menu is.”

Statz has been a chef for 10 years, beginning his culinary career at Fremont’s former J’s Steakhouse and training in official culinary classes at Metropolitan Community College. He then relocated to Ithaca, New York, where – he said – he helped open a restaurant with several cooking acquaintances and friends.

Then, he returned to Omaha and worked at numerous downtown Omaha-area fine-dining establishments before COVID-19 led to the closure of the restaurant Monarch in Hotel Deco, leading him to Dante Pizzeria. He also worked at former downtown Fremont restaurant, Alto Kitchen and Bar.

“I kind of made my mark in Omaha at Monarch, which used to be in the Hotel Deco. With COVID, the hotel closed and I landed at Dante,” Drew explained.

In regard to other dining options in Fremont, Chef Drew said he respects all the cooks, chefs and restaurants in the city, but wanted to add a unique, new flair for diners to choose from.

“All I ever hear when people talk about Fremont (dining) is the Golf Club. We are going to be approachable, we will be open to anybody and you can choose your own adventure. Retail wine is probably going to be our second biggest focus, as well as take-out,” he added. “Once a month, we’ll do a five course, ticketed meal…with some really nice wines we pour and a special menu. The goal is to do something special. We are still in the infancy of this. ... The goal for opening is April 14. But, if that doesn’t work out, we’re aiming for late spring at the latest.”











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