OMC Smokehouse Expanding into Next-Door Noble Pour; Now Called ‘OMC Whiskey Bar’

A hole in the wall now connects the restaurant to the bar, increasing seating.

DULUTH, Minn.- Governor Walz announcing that bars, restaurants and other business can open at 50% capacity Wednesday is a relief for many restaurant owners. But for one in Lincoln Park, that meant scrapping a newly opened business to give new life to an existing favorite.

“We’re kind of calling an audible on every play that we’ve made in the last three months, so this is another audible we’re playing,” said Tom Hanson, owner of OMC Smokehouse, Corktown Deli and Brews, and Duluth Grill.

Hanson opened Noble Pour last December. A specialty craft cocktail bar with drinks ranging from $10-$14.

“Not to say Noble Pour was a bad idea, but we were just very concerned that the Noble Pour would not be the right mood,” he said.

According to the owner, the bar did well in the few months it was open next door to OMC — before COVID-19 halted life.

This caused Hanson to re-evaluate the more upscale atmosphere.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that recessions are not the time when you kind of push the topside,” he said,” you want to push more of a comfort, you want to push more of that community coming together kind of feel.”

So he literally made a hole in the wall, connecting OMC Smokehouse to what is now being called the OMC Whiskey Bar.

“You can come in on this side and enjoy dinner,” he said, gesturing to the chairs and leather lounge-style seating where Noble Pour patrons once sipped the drinks that took minutes to intricately craft.

“Quite honestly the OMC was always kind of cramped and so we’re going to permanently get spacing and more comfort for the customer,” said Hanson. With the added bar seating and their patio, OMC will be able to seat 70 people total come Wednesday.

Thanks to the Federal PPP Loans, Hanson said, 160 of the 220 staff laid off will be able to come back.

OMC and the bar will be open from 3-9 p.m., while Corktown will be serving OMC Barbecue all day. Duluth Grill will seat about 74 people inside, with 50 outside.

“This isn’t like we’re opening the restaurant we closed,” Hanson said, “this is like three brand new restaurant openings.”

The restaurant owner said while he enjoyed the idea of Noble Pour, and he saw customers do the same, the pandemic has taught him that sometimes less is more.

“Y’know there’s a big silver lining through this whole thing, that’s simplifying life might be the key to everyone’s happiness,” he said, “and this is a reflection for us to kind of say we want to keep quality over quantity.”

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