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Prime rib and nostalgia at Fairfield Opera House Brewery & Grill

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:45 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - At a gathering spot in south central Nebraska, there’s great food on the menu, locally-produced beers to enjoy, and plenty of history to experience.

During a recent visit to the community of Fairfield, we took some time to learn about the Fairfield Opera House Brewery & Grill. It is owned by Fairfield native Lynn Nejezchleb. “This building was built in 1894,” Nejezchleb said. “The opera house was actually upstairs, and the downstairs was a grocery store and dry good store. The opera house really functioned as both an opera house for touring groups, but also it functioned as sort of a town hall, just like many town halls do today.” We asked if the old opera house is still in existence. “Not really,” Nejezchleb said. “I have looked far and wide to find pictures of what it looked like, and I have not been able to find one. There is a small area up there that is about ten by fifteen feet that’s raised up about a foot-and-a-half. I think that was the stage area. I don’t think it was a real ornate opera house. It was probably just a very functional place that people used for local gatherings. Over the years, it’s been hardware store downstairs here, and also a bar. When I took it over, I did a major renovation and pretty much gutted the entire place.”

Nejezchleb says he opened his business in the fall of 2006. “I had done a lot of different things before I opened this business,” Nejezchleb said. “I’d been in government in Washington, D.C. for 20 years, and I got an early retirement. I never had a business of my own. In the back of my mind, I was interested in starting a brewery. That didn’t happen originally, but I thought a restaurant was a place to start. I always wanted to start my own business.” Nejezchleb says he grew up in Fairfield and has good memories of the town. In starting his business, he wanted to bring some more excitement back to downtown Fairfield. “I wanted to revive the old building. That had always been kind of an interest to me, the historical aspect of that.”

There are a number of good dishes on the menu that keep customers coming back. “We’ve got pizzas on the menu, we’ve got hamburgers on the menu, other sandwiches, steaks and seafood,” Nejezchleb said. “Many small towns are known for this, but on Saturday nights we have prime rib, and that goes over very well. We get people from a 30-mile radius typically. We get people from Hastings, Superior, Clay Center and Aurora. Once in a while we get someone from Lincoln or Omaha.”

Not only is the Fairfield Opera House Brewery & Grill known for its good food. Nejezchleb points out that his business produces its own beers, and people enjoy coming to Fairfield to try some of those as well.

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