Oasis Falafel opens second location in Omaha

Two Council Bluffs natives have opened a new Oasis Falafel restaurant in Omaha.


Thomas A. Stewart

Thea Basili preps food on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. She has been working at Oasis for over a year. “This is the friendliest kitchen I have ever worked in,” Basili said.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

Iowa City’s resident Middle Eastern café, Oasis Falafel, has expanded to Omaha.

The Omaha location is operated by Council Bluffs natives and University of Iowa alumni Mike and Kellie Osler. After years of experience in the industry, Mike Osler said, he wanted to return home and start his own restaurant.

He started working at restaurants while at the UI. He had management positions at restaurants around the city, including Micky’s and Red’s Ale House, he said. He quickly discovered that his passion was in the restaurant business.

“I started taking that work more seriously and found out I had a knack for it,” he said.

In 2015, the Oslers started studying business with the idea of opening a restaurant, he said.

“We just kind of had a wild idea to open our own restaurant and kind of do our own thing,” he said.

That idea came to fruition after a casual conversation with Oasis owners Naftaly Stramer and Ofer Sivan. In February 2016, while eating lunch at Oasis, Mike struck up a conversation with them.

“A guy was sitting on the window bar and turned to us and said, ‘You know, one day I’d like to open something like you guys,’ ” Stramer said.

“He just jokingly, casually, nonchalantly said,  ‘You should open an Oasis,’ ” Mike Osler said. “It was one of those things I just kind of thought about for a couple months.”

Eventually, the Oslers decided they were ready to open their own Oasis. They worked at Oasis in Iowa City for about eight months to gain experience, Mike Osler said, and in May 2017, the couple moved to Omaha and began searching for a location.

It took over a year to get everything up and running, and the restaurant officially opened for business on Sept. 13. The Oslers have seen success so far, and they are optimistic about the future.

The business is located in the downtown Omaha, which, Mike Osler said, was a great lunch spot. He said they have found a niche.

“One of the more fun things is the fact that there’s so many people here connected to Iowa City,” he said.

Iowa City native Francesca Rizzo is one of those people. She grew up in Iowa City, and Oasis was one of her favorite restaurants, she said. Rizzo, who has been in Omaha since 2014, said she is glad to have Oasis in her area again.

“I think Oasis is a gem of Iowa City,” she said. “Oasis coming to Omaha is really bringing the best food and culture that Iowa City has to offer.”

Omaha’s Oasis has mostly the same menu as the one in Iowa City, Mike Osler said. However, he is putting special emphasis on the vegan options and has plans to change the menu in the future.

“We’re from this area, but we lived in Iowa City for so long that it became home to us,” Mike said. “To literally bring a piece of Iowa City home with us is really special.”

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