The Happy Raven to close its doors

The Happy Raven will open for the final time on Oct. 1
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The long-term effects of COVID go beyond the lingering coughs and chest pains. Bars and restaurants had to adapt to a world of social distancing, and some fared better than others. This week, The Happy Raven announced it would be closing its doors.

Matt Myers started The Happy Raven in 2015. He said he saw a hole in Lincoln’s craft beer scene that he wanted to fill.

He found success and recognition early on, earning the title of “Nebraska’s Best Beer Bar” from craftbeer.com in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“Just the different variety you can try,” Myers said. “And that is great. And we normally have low music. It’s sort of a more chill atmosphere to people can talk about the beer.”

But the pandemic put Myers and his six employees on their heels. They relied on retail, with people buying cans or bottles there to take home.

“It was difficult to watch that decline,” John Carvana, the bar manager, said. “We were opened up during shutdown, just doing off-sale. And I worked a lot of those shifts. There would be days where I would see a handful of people. And sometimes I would come in two, three days in a row, and I wouldn’t see anybody.”

Zoe Olson of the Nebraska Hospitality Association said unfortunately, that kind of situation has been all too common for bars and other businesses that rely on people gathering.

“Since COVID, our sales just have not been where they were before COVID,” Myers said. “...It’s bittersweet for sure. So many people have come in the last few days, so it’s good to see some people we haven’t seen in a bit. It will be good to reminisce with some people the last week or so.”

The bar was known for hosting special events, from trivia nights to its upcoming Oktoberfest, which will start at noon on Saturday. The Happy Raven will close its doors for the final time on Oct. 1, but for the staff and the regulars, it won’t soon be forgotten.

“We’ve been here since seven years, and it was amazing,” Jo Ballard, a regular at The Happy Raven, said. “I mean this place just brings people together.”

“It’s just an entire community that’s been built here,” Carvana said.