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Reuben Sandwich: Original from Nebraska

LINCOLN, Nebraska (Nebraska) – Our state is the birthplace of Reuben. In this story, we learn that it was invented in a hotel in Omaha and you can still enjoy this hotel today.

We met with Steve Shearn, General Manager of the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel. “This hotel was originally built in 1916,” Shearn said. It opened as a hotel in the 20s. The owner, Charles Schimmel, was the operator of the property and it was known as the Blackstone Hotel. It operated until the 1980s and then was converted into office space.”

By 2018, the old hotel was empty. “But three local developers saw it as an opportunity,” Shearn said. The hotel has been renovated and opened in November 2020. “Unlike a traditional hotel, it really nicely blends the historic past with the new amenities you would expect from a first-class hotel,” Shern said. If you want a great steak, consider visiting the hotel’s restaurant. “We sit at the Committee’s Chophouse,” Shearn said, “which is our steakhouse, and it’s more like a modern steakhouse in terms of atmosphere and offering.”

It turns out that the Blackstone Hotel, now called the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel, is the birthplace of the Reuben Sandwich. “This poker table we’re sitting at is connected to him,” Shern said. – Ruben originates on the 8th floor of this hotel. Mr. Schimmel played poker with a group of business people who often got together. They called each other and said: “The committee is meeting.” They called themselves The Committee, so our steakhouse pays tribute to them. At one of these poker games, they were hungry. One of the participants, Reuben Kulakofsky, had several barrels of fresh sauerkraut. Mr. Schimmel asked the hotel’s chef, who was also his brother, to come downstairs for fresh sauerkraut and corned beef and make him a sandwich. That’s when Ruben was born. “They loved it,” Shearn said, “the group convinced Mr. Schimmel to put it on the menu at their coffee shop. He then included it on the menu of three more of his hotels. In 1956, the National Restaurant Association named it Sandwich of the Year. Then the recipe was published, and that’s how it became popular.”

You can try an authentic Reuben sandwich at Cottonwood. “We keep corned beef for seven days, sauerkraut is fresh, but also seasoned and blanched. Locally produced bread. There’s a lot of love put into this sandwich.”

As for what’s next for the hotel, Shearn said it’s all about getting the word out about it and continuing to welcome the people of Nebraska. “We’re really just continuing the tradition of being Omaha’s living room,” Shearn said. “If you are staying or not staying and just want something to do, this is a great place to come and visit.”

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