River City Six – Dan O’Brien
Meet Dan O’Brien, owner of Acadian Grille (acadiangrille.com).
Tell us a little about your business.
The concept of our restaurant is a Cajun-themed grill and scratch kitchen. My cousin Matthew is our head chef and developed the dishes on our menu. He has over 30 years of experience as a chef, spending part of that time in Louisiana familiarizing himself Cajun cuisine. Our restaurant has been open for three months now and is located off of 114th and Dodge St.
How did you get started in the business?
After doing lots of business travel throughout my 25 years in the corporate world, I really acquired a taste for Cajun food and the restaurant industry in general. Prior to entering the corporate world I was a sauté line cook living San Francisco. So, I took my business experience and admiration for food and opened my own restaurant! I pride myself in having a clean restaurant that sticks to its Cajun roots. I don’t flirt with BBQ or whatever else.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Even though I have a great staff now, in the beginning it was a challenge to find the right people. Another challenge is facing the ebbs and flows of traffic from month to month. It can go from really busy to really slow, depending on external factors in the community.
Tell us a little about your family.
I’ve been married to my wife Jennifer for 18 years. She is a wonderful stay-at-home mother. We have three kids together. They are all very involved and I’m proud of each of them. While we are all very busy, we make time to take a family vacation each year.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Probably getting my first “big boy job” when I turned 25 years old. I was managing a high-volume production department that employed over 400 people across multiple facilities. I had that job for four years and then I got promoted to division director. I really got the feel for the level of responsibility that I needed to have.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I love to go swimming or biking with my kids and their friends. I spend a lot of my time coaching different sports as well. I’ve also been working on playing guitar and I really enjoy that.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
While I seem really laid back, I’m always planning my next move. I am very strategic.
What are you the most proud of?
My family unit—my kids and my marriage. I’m also very proud of how far I’ve come in my career.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
There are two. First, “Make sure your house is clean before you move on to the next thing.” The second is, “You can ask for permission and wait, or act now and ask for forgiveness later.” I usually choose the later…
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
“The Next Time I’m In Town” by Chet Atkins.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
Greater Omaha Postal Customer Council! I am also very involved at my daughters school, St Cecilia’s Catholic Grade School.
What is your favorite movie?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
What is your favorite TV show?
Columbo, circa 1970 versions.
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be?
If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so?