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Who's Hungry? We're All Hungry

Who’s Hungry? We’re All Hungry!

So Let’s Eat! – at Alum’s Salt 88

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, that’s just not John Horvatinovich’s style. Instead of mixing up some lemon juice, water and sugar, Horvatinovich grated some lemon zest over calamari. That’s just one of the many dishes you’ll find at Horvatinovich’s restaurant, Salt 88.

A busted-up knee and a job opportunity that wasn’t are a couple of the bad breaks Horvatinovich suffered before opening the restaurant. Even his alma mater, Bellevue University, handed him a bit of a lemon when the new Culinary Arts degree he had initially registered for never fully materialized. Salt881

However, Horvatinovich persevered at the University, earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2010. He opened Salt 88, located at 3623 N. 129th Street in Omaha, in May 2013.

“He’s able to speak in front of a crowd, he’s able to really draw up some great ideas, he’s able to organize things from people to projects -- that’s what a degree at Bellevue University means,” Horvatinovich said. “Bellevue was able to prove to me that it was worth staying and finishing even when the degree of choice that brought me there was no longer available.”

Dr. Julia Cronin-Gilmore’s marketing classes stood out for Horatinovich. Cronin-Gilmore and other professors were able to capitalize on Horvatinovich’s real-world restaurant experience as well as his experience as an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan Community College.

“They recognized that ‘hey, this is a resource that we can tap into so other students can see some real-world experience’,” he said. “There was definitely more engagement. I think that was the best part of it.”

Horvatinovich, who came to the University with an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Colorado, describes the cuisine at Salt 88 as modern American with Italian influences.

“We didn’t want to put ourselves into a corner. We wanted something different. We wanted something unique,” Horvatinovich said. “Omaha is very big city when they want to be and small town when they want to be. We like to change those hats often.”

Among the highlights at Salt 88 is the sweet and spicy pizza, made with spicy sausage, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese and a sweet and spicy sauce. The pizza won both the judges and people’s choice award from Omaha’s Food & Spirits magazine.

Horvatinovich also recommends the plank-fired salmon.

“We put it on a cedar wood plank and grill it right on top of an open grill,” Horvatinovich explained. “We top it with a tomato basil sauce and some fresh grilled vegetables.”

The Make It Rain is the signature drink served up at the bar, a cucumber and lime-infused vodka with English cucumbers, fresh mint and agave nectar. Salt882

The attention to detail the helped Horvatinovich through college is evident in the interior design at Salt 88 as well. In addition to the main dining room and bar, the restaurant features a private dining room and a patio overlooking Eagle Run Golf Course. Lighting along the toe kicks and back benches help illuminate the restaurant without being overwhelming.

The Salt 88 experience is not complete without a little cotton candy. That’s right, cotton candy. The sugary treat is served as a free dessert at the end of every meal.

“I don’t think it is possible to eat cotton candy angry,” Horvatinovich explained. “It’s shareable. It’s fun. It allows people to let down their guard a little bit.”