Have you ever walked into an establishment and just known, right then and there, that you were about to get really happy?

Sometimes it’s the smell of the place that gets you…sometimes it’s the décor…sometimes it’s this intangible something that just emanates the promise of Awesome.

In this particular instance, it was the bratwurst. It had me at Guten Tag. It wasn’t loud or fancy. It wasn’t screaming, “Heyo! I’m a bratwurst!” It simply whispered quietly to me, “Oh, hello. I was made right here, in this very building. And I’m awesome.”

What kind of sausage heaven had I stepped into? Could it be true? Had I really just set foot in a restaurant that butchers, smokes, and prepares all of its meat right on the premises? And…no…in that display case…could it be…

Gourmet CHOCOLATE!?

Why, yes. Yes, it’s all true. This miraculous place is Greta’s Gourmet, and it’s right here in Lincoln, NE. Built and run by Kevin Mandigo and Shalla Powell-Mandigo, Greta’s Gourmet is a butcher shop, deli, and catering service all rolled into one.

Now, I know you’re all starting to salivate…I know you want to know about the food, but there’s even more Awesome to address first.

Many families have been built on love, loyalty, and understanding. The Mandigo family was built on love, loyalty, understanding…and meat. Kevin’s father, Dr. Roger Mandigo, has been a professor of Meat Science at UNL for 45 years. He pioneered the meat-binding process that allowed for the birth of the legendary McRib. No, for real. He’s been inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. And he’s retiring this June…June 30th, to be exact. This means you’ll be seeing him around Greta’s, lending an (expert) helping hand, so you should probably come in and compliment him on being completely Awesome.

Okay. Food. Finally. When I asked Kevin what it is he loved about the food they make, he replied:
“We use the word ‘handcrafted’ a lot around here. All of our meat products are made from scratch, and they’re made here in the shop. We take the ingredients that we have in front of us, and we use them to create the food that we offer.”

And let me tell you, this food is great. Has a chicken salad sandwich ever made you close your eyes and made you sing a little happy-song in your head? My dad had the chicken salad, and then I decided to have it the next day.

That’s right, my family got Greta’s for lunch two days in a row.
Imagine. In-house-smoked chicken…golden raisins…red onion…sharp cheddar…a light, flavorful mayo…complete with a buttery, flaky croissant. Trust me, this is not your typical community-picnic chicken salad. This stuff might even make you cry just a little bit.
Paul got the smoked salmon salad. Delicious, apparently. (I hate fish, so…you know…) I also got the BBQ pork. Totally yummy. Mom got the smoked turkey and bacon sandwich two days in a row. What did we get for sides? Marinated veggie salad and caprese salad. Fresh, crisp veggies, giant hunks of fresh mozzarella, and delicious vinaigrettes.

Oh, and also, they sell Christopher Elbow chocolates. If you’re familiar with Christopher Elbow, you understand. If you’re not, go here after you’re done reading this. Kevin is friends with the talented Christoper, and this chocolate is mind-blowing. You should probably get a few of these for dessert.

Next, I asked Kevin why he chose Lincoln as the setting for the business:
“Lincoln is a tough market for this concept, but the reason that it’s perfect, is that we fill a completely untapped niche. Lincoln doesn’t have any full-service delis or butchers, and very few gourmet grocery options. We wanted to create a place to which we would want to go. If I were just a random customer on the street, my wife and I would be here every chance we got.”

Now that’s not arrogance, folks, that’s somebody simply loving what they do…and I don’t know about you, but that’s a quality I look for in a business. Especially a restaurant.

Be sure to come in for their $4.00 lunch, Friday burger meal, and their hot dinner special. That’s right, you can call in, reserve a dinner special, and have it ready for you as you walk in the door.

Here are a few things coming up at Greta’s that you should definitely be aware of:

Official Ribbon Cutting
Today, June 16th, at 10:45

Cappy’s Annual Outdoor Bike Show
Sunday, June 26th, 12-6 pm. Greta’s will be serving ribs, beans, and some other yummies.

Wurstmacher 101
Friends, this is TOTALLY AWESOME. For $50.00, you can learn how to (and help) make sausage with a couple of experts. And then you get to eat sausage. And then you get to take some of said sausage home. They only have a few slots left for their upcoming session, but will be making this a regular institution. Can you say, “Most perfect Bachelor (or Bachelorette!) party EVER!?”

Okay, class. Raise your hand if you had heard of Greta’s Gourmet before. Hopefully, now that you’ve learned of this glorious meat-heaven, you will flock to it in droves, gleefully squealing and grabbing passersby by the shirt collars, dragging them all the way to Greta’s…and after you experience the deliciousness, you should write them a Yelp review. I hear through the Meatvine that Kevin rewards people who bring in their reviews…rewards them in a gourmet chocolate kind of way. I’m not saying that he does or doesn’t… I’m just saying he might. 🙂

Finally, after all of this meat discussion, I still haven’t gotten to the sweetest part.

Who, you might be asking, is Greta?

If you come in, you’ll see some gorgeous pictures of a beautiful, smiling, little girl playing with kitchen utensils. This is Kevin and Shalla’s daughter, Greta. And she is CUTE…and obviously adored by her parents…and probably adored by anyone who gets the chance to meet her.

Their meat may be amazing, and the chocolate may be sweet, but the most important ingredient used at Greta’s is family…and nothing, my friends, is sweeter than that.