Starting after World War II, there was a lot of development in North Omaha from North 40th to North 72nd Street. Fontenelle Park was a wonderland for recreation and ease, and it was inevitable that businesses tried taking advantage of the setting. This is the history of one of these businesses called the Parkside Cafe.
Located at 4438 Ames Avenue, the Parkside Cafe was opened in 1958. Originally the site of the Fontenelle Golf Club’s private clubhouse starting in 1921, the address of 4438 Ames had a few different lives before becoming a restaurant, including as a chicken farm and a grocery store. Serving customers as the “Golf Inn” starting in 1926, that business closed in 1930, presumably due to the Great Depression. A two-story building, there was a storefront on the first floor and the club was located on the second floor, featuring 6 meeting rooms and a locker room for players. In the 1930s and 1940s, the building had a tavern in it, and the upstairs rooms were apartments.
In 1950, the old building was demolished and a new one was constructed. It was a single-story, flat roof building with a large basement. There was a paved parking lot in front and gravel in back. Located across the street from Fontenelle Park, the new building was on Ames Avenue in an era when everyone in the community drove everywhere, and it was well-positioned for success.
When it was finished, George Peter Geldis and his wife Helen Geldis opened the Park Side Bar at the address. In 1959, the owners caused a ruckus when they were denied an off-site alcohol license by the City of Omaha, only appeal to the Nebraska State Liquor Board to have their license granted.
In 1960, the Geldis’ reopened the restaurant as the Parkside Cafe and Bar and advertised “roasts, steaks, fowl, fish” for dinner. The business was also advertised as the Parkside Steakhouse. By 1963, the restaurant boasted “many king steaks, 7 kinds of sea foods, 10-oz lobster, ham steak, prime rib porkloin, prime rib steaks, 18-oz serving chicken, private party room.”
The Geldises were racists who advertised positions only for “whites only” to work as waitresses and busboys in the restaurant until 1961.
They were also football fans who supported the Nebraska Cornhuskers with public advertisements in 1969 and 1970.
In 1969, the body of John Trudell was found in the dirt “just south of the parking lot at Parkside Steak House.” An 82-year-old resident of the neighboring St. Vicent’s Home for the Aged, Trudell’s body was badly mangled and he was ruled as dying from blunt force trauma. The murderer was a construction worker who left the Parkside’s bar at midnight.
The bar was the sight of many robberies over the years, including a 1972 raid where three men charged inside with rifles and held up a dozen people including the bartender.
In 1976, the Parkside was closed permanently, and within a year it had become Saner’s Lounge. By 1993, it was called the Sand Trap Bar. In 2018, the entire block with the Parkside building was torn down, and today it is home to the Metro Health Services Credit Union. There is no sign that the Parkside Cafe was ever located there.