The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

The North Star

The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

The North Star

The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

The North Star

    the history behind Jim’s

    Photo by Zareena Abdessalam

    For nearly a year, one of the most popular ribs spots in North Omaha has been closed. Jim’s Rib Haven is a symbol of quality and tradition for Omaha Ribs according to the Omaha Food Magazine.  

    Jim’s Rib Haven first opened in 1967 in Rock Island, Illinois. Jim Overton Sr., the original owner of Jim’s, began his business by smoking ribs at his home in Illinois.  

    Jim’s early life started out on a farm in Missouri with his parents. He later moved to Illinois after serving in World War II, where he cooked at family gatherings and church events. During this time, he developed his special BBQ sauce recipe according to Omaha Exploration. 

    Jim was almost 40 years old when he created the Rib Haven, becoming the first African American to open a restaurant in Quad Cities.  

    The restaurant started as carry out only but as its popularity increased, the owner expanded his business to East Moline, Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska according to Pauli Mayfield, a writer for the WQAD news station. 

    Jim’s daughter was the one who found a small building near Omaha North High School for Jims Omaha location according to Omaha Exploration. After preparation, Jim’s Rib Haven opened in Omaha in 1987. The building still stands 37 years later, but not without complications. 

    Jim’s Rib Haven was forced to close because of a fire in 2023. March of that year, the smoker in the restaurant caught fire and collapsed damaging the entire building. The most paramount damage was done to the smoker room itself before the fire jumped to the front of the building. Firefighters took care of the danger in about 15 minutes, but the building still suffered in the process according to 6 News. 

    In the early afternoon of Thursday February 1, 2024, cars and people line the streets around Jim’s Rib Haven for the reopening.  

    Amani Sturdivant, 11, was unable to go to the Rib Haven on Thursday but went the next day. 

    “The line was almost 30 minutes long… but it was worth the wait,” says Sturdivant. 

    In 2013, after Jim Overton Sr. passed away, he left the Rock Island location to his son. The East Moline restaurant is run by his nephew, while his daughter keeps up the Omaha location according to an article published by Omaha Exploration. 

    Over the course of his life, Jim’s talent has won him and his restaurant many awards. In 2020, Jim’s Rib Haven was named one of Omaha’s top ten best barbecue restaurants according to Omaha Exploration. 

    Due to the Omaha location being so close to Omaha North High School, both students and teachers were excited to have Jim’s Rib Haven back in business. 

    Graphic by Zareena Abdessalam
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    Zareena Abdessalam
    Zareena Abdessalam, News Writer

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