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Omaha Magazine

For a Good Time, Call: Grant Triplett Cracks Beers, Jokes, and the Code to Omaha’s Greatest Dives

May 23, 2023 03:34PM ● By Julius Fredrick
Grant Triplett A+C Author Omaha Magazine June 2023

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Listen to this article here. Audio Provided by Radio Talking Book Service.

This Story Explores Aspects of Dark Comedy, and Includes Concepts and Language That Some May Find Offensive. Reader Discretion Advised.

There’s no denying the rapture of a fine-dining experience—the genuflecting waiter ushering  guests to a white-cloth table, the elegant menu with word likes ‘pan-seared’ and ‘braised’ in Baskerville typeface, the polished silver promising a bite of euphoria with every cut. Yet, for most folks, such occasions are a flash in the pan—and the ritual of it all, the pomp and spectacle, leaves little space for genuine interaction.  

For that, dive bars are the people’s choice—local watering holes where the drinks are cheap, the laughs free, and all manner of personalities converge in stunning disarray. Local author Grant Triplett is well acquainted with such locales—he’s deciphered bathroom stall etchings, measured stale beer gas levels, and has organized expeditions to more than 50 Omaha dives. One part David Attenborough, one part Bill Burr (with a wedge of Hunter S. Thompson), Triplett published his findings in Taxi Diver: a compendium of Omaha dive bars in 2021.

In the book’s preamble (following the dedication and preface, and before the ‘note to the bars’ and ‘how to use this book’ sections), Triplett makes his intentions clear:

“I tried to write this in a manner that immerses the reader into dive culture. That is the reason it is crass, cheap, uncouth, and dim. The things you will read are things that are not uncommon to overhear at drinkeries. I love Omaha’s dive bars because you can witness such a vast array of splendid content. They are places where individuals can be untethered and unfiltered no matter how exotic, peculiar, or batsh*t crazy they are.” 

Location doesn’t factor into Triplett’s selections—from Joe’s Duck Inn in Millard, to the Leavenworth Bar near Midtown, to the Caddyshack Bar & Grill in West O. Rather, he narrowed down the featured bars based on firsthand experience, reputation, and longevity.

“There’s a few bars that are 60 or 100 years old,” Triplett said. “I think The Happy Bar is the second oldest in the book, so that’s why I joked [in that chapter] that somebody was probably at this bar when Kennedy’s head exploded, right?”

Each chapter follows the same structure: initial impressions, a “dive test,” and concluding thoughts. Points for the dive test are fairly subjective, but the underlying criteria is “a reason they are not a fancy, ritzy, otherwise classy joint.”

For example, he writes of the Therapy Bar & Grill:

“Any place that shows Cops, the 5’ o’clock news, or Jeopardy! automatically passed the Dive Test […] Wanna watch police beat the hell out of tweakers in bumf**k West Virginia while you sip an IPA? They got your back.”

Grant initially developed his passion for (and crass style of) writing while attending the University of Nebraska—Lincoln in 2006, penning columns for the Daily Nebraskan. 

“[The Daily Nebraskan] hired me and then I wrote about whatever I wanted,” Triplett recalled. “I did one on drinking absinthe, and I got drunk on absinthe and talked about kissing my bed. I did one on sh*t breath—just bad breath […] I did one on why I didn’t vote back in the day, and I remember I got a death threat. So, that was my first dose of negative criticism, which was fine.”

By the time of taxi diver’s release some 15 years later, Triplett was not only hardened to criticism—he was expecting it.

“Sometimes you have to accept criticism, and that’s something I’ve learned over 20 years of writing. It comes with it—it sucks, it never really doesn’t, but it gets easier,” Triplett explained. “Somebody thinks that you called their place sh*t, because you said it smells like mothballs and brimstone? But at the same time, it’s a net good thing—are more people laughing than crying? Are more people happy than angry? I’ve had to have helped at least one or two businesses bring in a little bit of money […] and if not, at least they laughed.”

As for his focus on reviews, Triplett had been invited by a friend to the Omaha Food Lovers Facebook page in 2019, where he “lurked and lurked” until heartbreak inspired his first post.

“Kind of what reinvigorated my spark for writing was when I wrote something three years ago [on the Omaha Food Lovers page] about how I got stood up on Valentine’s Day for a date, and got a 40-ounce of Highlife and then got a Sonic meal, because I only eat fast food once a year,” Triplett said. “But I wrote about it and clicked, and then went about my day, drank the 40 […] and then I checked back about an hour later, and I had 600 notifications on my phone.

“Then I go ‘Oh God,’ the first thing I thought was ‘I must have said something offensive or pissed somebody off […] and it was just a bunch of ‘This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read’ and ‘This is hilarious, who are you?’ All this stuff…it kind of reinvigorated my desire for writing.”

Afterward, Triplett began posting regularly, amassing a following over the 90 or so reviews he’s posted since. The end was result was Triplett’s sophomore book in 2022, the relatively tamer G’s Spots: A Guide to Omaha Eateries—a collection of 60 of his posts and a bonus “March Madness” bracket pitting each restaurant “against each other in a battle to the death” to determine “thee G spot.”

“Just because you get rid of the ‘F bombs’ doesn’t mean it’s not gonna be [crass],” Triplett noted of his second book. “I talk about it in the book, but my mom actually tasked me with—I made too many poop references and diarrhea and sh*t references—and she’s like ‘I want you to write one without one.’ So, four out of five now are sh*t free, but still, 20% of them have something to do with diarrhea.” 

Needless to say, subtlety isn’t a strength (or perhaps, weakness) of Triplett’s. Whether reading taxi diver, G’s Spots, or listening to his podcast SMPL—an acronym for Sh*t My Pants Laughing—his content, and his goal, are as unfiltered as a hazy IPA.

“It’s to make people laugh and to help a business—hopefully both at once,” Triplett said. “That’s the whole point of everything I’ve ever done.” 

Triplett’s books are available on Amazon, and his podcast on Spotify. Visit Omaha Food Lover’s page on Facebook for more information.

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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