Junior’s Forgot Store Bar and Grill is located at 11909 Calhoun Road in the Ponca Hills, just beyond the Florence neighborhood in North Omaha. A community icon, it’s been open in some form for at least 120 years. This is a history of the place.
According to an article in the Omaha World-Herald archives, the Forgot Store was open in 1894. Oral history places it even further back in the 1880s.
In 1904, a local newspaper report gladly announced,
“Out on the banks of Ponca creek, about three miles north of Florence, Neb., there is a store that must be a source of joy to the farmer who has been to town to make purchases, and who, when on his way home, finds that he has forgotten something that the folks at the farm need badly. It has a sign, a crude one, compared to some of the city signs, that tells one it is the ‘Forgot Store.’”
Neighborhood grocery stores dot neighborhoods throughout Omaha, and even more so in the past. For a long time, people in the Ponca Hills loved their grocery called the Forgot Store. Located at the intersection of the Ponca Road and Calhoun Road, the Forgot Store supposedly got its name because it was the last place to get something on your way out of town in case you forgot it.
“…a Mecca for all those who pass by and have failed to remember things.”
Owners of the Store
Often associated with the people who owned and ran it (the Ericksons, the Pritchards, the Hunts, the Cullens, and now Junior), the Forgot Store was the site of many events. More than 120 years ago, Claude Nethaway, a notorious violent white supremacist in Florence, owned the store. Nethaway raised a variety of poultry there, and on December 24, 1902 he hosted “an all-around shooting match” with turkeys, targets and pigeons, and surely kept any African Americans from shopping there. After his wife died of mysterious causes in 1917, he sold the store.
C. S. Erikson owned it next. In the early 1920s, the building was called a roadhouse and its ownership was held as suspicious. An Omaha policeman was suspended for being a partner in the criminal enterprise, since it was used as a flophouse. However, by the late 1920s a retired doctor, Dr. Harvey Pritchard, owned it and ran it as a regular store again. He was well-respected in the community, and in Wisner, Nebraska, where he was practiced. The Cullens and the Hunts owned it afterward.
From 1975 to 1993, Mike Hickey and his wife Darlene owned the store. Long involved in the Ponca Hills neighborhood, the Hickeys were volunteers at the fire department and well respected. Junior Mathiesen, former owner of the Anchor Inn, owns it today.
As recently as 2016, Junior’s Forgot Store Bar and Grill has hosted benefits for various causes and is still an active meeting place for the community. Despite receiving some poor reviews online, the Forgot Store is held in high regard within the community and respected for its history.
In my research, I found four features about the Forgot Store in the Omaha World-Herald since 1904, including one from March 2019. Despite its roll in the community and age, there are no historical plaques, designations from the City of Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission as an official Omaha Landmark, or listing on the National Register of Historic Places for the building.
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- “Nightlife review: Junior’s Forgot Store Bar … ain’t she a beautiful sight?” by Greg Jerrett for the Omaha World-Herald on March 12, 2019.