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Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

A ‘Memoir’ to the past

Flagship Restaurant Group opening up a new eatery on site of old Conagra offices, keeping with Omaha’s food history
Chief+Culinary+Officer+Tony+Gentile%2C+President+Tom+Allisma+and+COO+Anthony+Hitchcock+are+all+owners+of+Flagship+Restaurant+Group.+Flagship+opened+their+newest+restaurant%2C+Memoir%2C+Feb.+5.
Daniel Vanourney
Chief Culinary Officer Tony Gentile, President Tom Allisma and COO Anthony Hitchcock are all owners of Flagship Restaurant Group. Flagship opened their newest restaurant, Memoir, Feb. 5.

Chief operating officer and partial owner of Flagship Restaurant Group, Anthony Hitchcock, helped start the company 21 years ago when he got a call from his first cousin, Flagship Restaurant Group’s now CEO, Nick Hogan.

“One day, my cousin called,” Hitchcock said. “He’d just gotten his law degree and asked me if I wanted to move to Omaha to open a sushi restaurant. I told him he was crazy. I didn’t wanna move to Omaha.”

Eventually, Hogan offered to fly Hitchcock up to Omaha to learn more about the opportunity. Hitchcock had been listening to NPR and heard them say that the thing people aged 16 and older regret the most is not taking more risks, and it stuck with him. 

“I decided to leave a really credible employer that I had at the time in Texas and move here,” Hitchcock said. 

Hitchcock went to college with Tony Gentile, another one of the owners of the Flagship Restaurant Group, and they were both pursuing degrees for hotel and restaurant management. After graduating, they eventually found themselves at the same job, and Hitchcock was able to convince Gentile to come with him to Omaha.

“I convinced Tony to come with me because Tony is a very talented chef,” Hitchcock said. “We drove up here to Omaha, joined Nick, and Nick had a good friend at the time, Tom, who was an architect, or had just gotten his degree in architecture.”

Thus, Flagship Restaurant Group was born with Hogan as CEO with his law degree and knowledge of finances, Allisma as the architect and Gentile and Hitchcock with their hotel and restaurant degrees.   

Fast forward 21 years and Flagship has expanded to multiple states and now has 20 Blue Sushi locations with another slated to open later this year, and recently opened up their brand new concept Memoir, Feb. 5, at 930 Harney Street.

“It would be easy to just have stopped with the couple of concepts that we had and grow those, but we love food,” Hitchcock said. “We love restaurants and we travel a lot. So, we’re always out visiting different restaurants across the country and getting inspired to want to have a concept like that ourselves.”

Fans of Flagship’s other concepts such as Blue Sushi Saké​ Grill, Blatt Beer and Table among others will find a little bit of everything for everyone on the Memoir menu, including, but not limited to, steaks and sushi.

To help bring this concept to life and open it, they brought in John Frans, who is a Regional Operations Director for Flagship and has been with the company for 19 years. 

“The cool thing that I like about Memoir is that we title ourselves an American grill, but what we also do is we bring some of our sushi items to our concept as well,” Frans said. “It separates us from the normal American grill, and we’re able to do something Flagship does so well as sushi, with having all the Blue concepts as we have, and we’ve got one of our corporate chefs that does all the sushi helping us create this menu.”

In addition to sushi, Memoir will have three separate steaks on the menu, as well as other menu items associated with the traditional American grill.

“We’ve got a filet mignon, a ribeye and a flat iron steak and they’re all made a little bit different,” Frans said. “We have seafood dishes, we have chicken dishes, we have a great salad menu. Starters are stuff that everybody will like and then like I said, the sushi aspect of it brings it all together.”

Frans is also excited as this is the first restaurant he will be personally responsible for opening.

“I’m excited to show people what I’ve got as far as how I open restaurants,” Frans said. “It’s important to me to show to the owners what I can do to help get one of their restaurants off the ground.”

Heading the creation of the menu is head chef and part owner of Flagship Restaurant Group, Tony Gentile and Flagship corporate chef Nestor Rebolledo, in addition to Ben Maides who has made a name for himself in the Omaha culinary scene, even becoming a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard best chef, and is the owner of Au Courant. He is also one of Flagship’s Culinary Directors. 

While Memoir has a diverse menu, it is more than just a restaurant to Hitchcock. Memoir was not only conceptualized to recognize the journey of Flagship and its owners, but to be an immersive experience. He describes it as classic, timeless, lively and family as there is a big family element to Memoir.

“We love food and we’re also very passionate about people,” Hitchcock said. “It’s really neat for us to create a space where we know we can host people within a city and create experiences where they’re going to walk and have memories.”

Frans and Hitchcock also say that if someone is interested in working in the restaurant industry they should not be afraid of issues arising, and they should be able to be able to address those challenges and be positive.

“Positive energy inside of a restaurant is critical because it translates across the whole restaurant,” Hitchcock said. “Making sure that someone is high energy, positive all the time and willing to change and adapt to whatever comes your way and has a desire to create experiences for guests.”

Frans adds that you shouldn’t be afraid to give it a chance, echoing that he started at the bottom and worked his way up. 

“I encourage everyone to give it a chance, be confident in yourself and what you’re doing,” Frans said. “There’s always tough services and everybody’s questioning whether they still want to do this, but those happen at any restaurant and don’t get discouraged when you have those rough shifts.”

“Memoir is part of a big project where it’s part of a series of concepts opening there,” Hitchcock said. “Right after memoir opens, Châm Pang Lanes opens, which is our duckpin bowling concept, and right next to that is Ghost Donkey,” Hitchcock said. “Some of the food for those will come from Memoir’s kitchen. So they all kind of work off of each other. When I say family, there’s an experience part to it because my wife and two children could go down at 4 p.m. and bowl at Châm Pang Lanes and have a 6 p.m. dinner reservation at Memoir.”

Flagship is  also set to open their Mediterranean concept Clio’s in the coming months.

For reservations at Memoir go to ourmemoir.com. 

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About the Contributor
Daniel Vanourney, Lance Staff
I am Daniel Vanourney and this is my second year on Lance. I love movies and pop culture. I also love music and Halloween.
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