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Omaha Magazine

Brazenly Paving A Path for Friendship and Fun: Teri Ochoa

Nov 23, 2020 01:48PM ● By Brody Hilgenkamp
Teri Ochoa, Brazen Head in background

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

"If you weren’t working for me, what would be the one thing you’d really like to do?”

Larry Good asked his friend Teri Ochoa that question last year on a whim, and Ochoa answered that she’d like to own a restaurant. She’d worked evenings at Goldberg’s Bar and Grill in West Omaha to help support her family, and she found the fast-paced environment was her “happy place.” A return to that would be fun, she said.

“I love the chaos that comes in a restaurant,” she said. “I love being around people and providing them with an environment where people can have a lot of fun, have a good meal, socialize.”

When Good asked that question Ochoa was working for him at PI Midwest, a consulting firm that helps companies manage and understand their employees through a strengths finder and personality profile called Predictive Index, of which PI Midwest is a licensed seller. Ochoa worked with clients and helped them apply the tool, employing her experience from her time at Conagra and her educational background in industrial and organizational psychology.

The two decided to see what was out there and quickly stumbled upon a listing for the Brazen Head, a popular Irish-themed bar in the heart of Omaha. After some research and a financial review, they decided to pull the trigger and bought the bar in October 2019. Good handles the financials while Ochoa runs the day-to-day operations.

“She got in there and she just kind of took over, and honest to God I don’t have to do much,” said Good, who was a part owner of Omaha’s iconic Ranch Bowl. “She runs the whole thing. I’ve told people the smartest thing I can do is just stay out of her way. She knows what she’s doing—she’s really good at it.”

The bar became Ochoa’s full-time job—she still works with clients at PI Midwest during the lulls between Brazen Head’s meal-time rushes—and she has enjoyed the switch. She relishes the people-centric focus, which is what she enjoyed most about her work at PI Midwest as well.

“One of the most rewarding parts of it is just developing a staff,” Ochoa said. “I’d love nothing more than to be able to get this business up and running, really stable, and go out and do it again.”

Good said Ochoa has the personality and temperament to work well with others, something he’s seen both in her work in restaurants and with clients at PI Midwest. 

“A lot of it’s instinctual,” he said. “She’s just got a good sense of reading people.”

Customers are savvy, Ochoa said, which makes it important to ensure they have a positive experience. In times past, if customers weren’t satisfied they would tell you face-to-face, but now there are social media and online review sites.

“You really have to be pretty plugged into what’s going on in the restaurant all the time,” she said. “Not that anybody can be perfect, but we want people to have a great experience when they come in.”

The restaurant business is notoriously unpredictable, but COVID-19 made for an especially hectic spring as it hit full force right before St. Patrick’s Day. The lockdown on bars did allow the owners to move forward with renovations of Brazen Head, which include a patio space.

“I like a little chaos,” Ochoa said, before adding, “I like it to be controlled.”

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This article was first published in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of B2B.