By Briana Gehrken
The smell of sawdust lingers in the air, along with the anticipation for opening night as 1% Production co-founders Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz rush to finish the renovation of their new venue, the Waiting Room.Johnson and Leibowitz currently book a majority of their shows at Sokol at 13th and Martha streets. Their journey as business partners began when they got tired of driving to Lawrence, Kan., to see good bands, Johnson said. They decided to start bringing the music to Omaha.
Plans for their new venue have been in the works for longer than a decade, Johnson said. It was all a matter of finding that perfect location.
The club, located at 6212 Maple St. in Benson, is scheduled to open on March 9. The bar will be open daily with shows a majority of the week. It will also house the new headquarters of 1% Productions.
“We went a little bit crazier than we expected to,” said Johnson.
The venue will feature all the comforts of your local bar including a pool table, dart board and intimate seating. With one very cool exception: a pinball room.
Johnson said their liquor license was approved by the city of Omaha last Tuesday and is now going through state appeals.
“For a room this size,” said Johnson, “we are definitely going to have a superior sound system.” The new venue will also have an amazing lighting system, and the stage is two inches taller than Sokol’s, so the views will not be lost on the people in the back.
Because the club has a capacity of 250 people, it can play host to a wide variety of intimate shows. Johnson and Leibowitz plan to diversify the bands that play on their 14 foot by 30 foot stage. Johnson said they want to book more bands with reggae, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll influences, and bring in a wider audience.
Saddle Creek also has a venue scheduled to open this spring called Slowdown. Johnson said that they will be working together and booking shows there as well. 1% will also continue booking shows at Sokol, but with less frequency.
The Waiting Room will offer music lovers from all genres a place to call home again. Somewhere that can rival the atmosphere of the Cog Factory and the comfort of the Ranch Bowl. This will start to bridge the gap that has been getting continually wider with the closing of more and more venues around the Omaha and Lincoln area.
“We just work really hard at bringing in good music,” said Johnson. “Hopefully this is the next stage of growth for our business.