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Erik Hustad & Gabe Lovelace


It started with a food truck.

Scratch that.

It really started with a conversation over a sandwich.

Erik Hustad and Gabe Lovelace grew up together. They’re first cousins, former band mates and friends. Now, they’re the co-owners of Honest Abe’s and Ground Up Kitchen.

Back to that sandwich… Erik graduated from culinary school in Seattle and worked in the restaurant business before moving back to Lincoln. He was itching to start his own thing and he had a few ideas.

This is where Gabe comes into the picture. Erik and his wife, Jess, would come over to Gabe and his wife, Emily’s, house to try out new recipes. This was a pretty common practice for the couples – it gave them an excuse to hang out and eat really good food.

That night, while experimenting with a new chicken salad sandwich recipe, Erik pitched his idea for a burger joint to Gabe. They talked about it briefly and then moved on to a different topic.

Gabe called Erik up a few days later saying something like… “Hey, were you serious about that burger idea? Because, I’d be up for it…”

Erik responded with a question… “What would you think about being my partner in some sort of restaurant?”

Gabe was all in.

“I was his third option,” Gabe said with a laugh, looking over at Erik.

“I didn’t even know he was interested! And he was the only one who said yes, quit his job and came to run this ridiculous food truck,” Erik said.

While Erik had the food know-how, Gabe had the love of food and a desire to find a new job. Gabe had started and quit college three times, worked in the healthcare industry, dabbled in music and had a long list of mediocre jobs.

So, the cousins started a food truck. While they talked about the burger idea, they quickly realized you can’t make good burgers very quickly in a food truck, so they ran with a sandwich and mac and cheese concept they called GUP Kitchen – ‘GUP’ was short for Ground Up.

They got a loan from the bank, spent nearly all of it on buying a truck and trailer and then opened up for business on what felt like a sub-zero temperature day in November 2011.

“I think my mom was our only customer that day,” Erik said with a laugh.

Within their first year of business, Erik and Gabe secured a brick and mortar shop near 70th and Vine streets where they launched Honest Abe’s, their burger concept, in August 2012.

The burger idea took off fast and the guys were a little surprised. They’d meant for Honest Abe’s to be a casual burger joint with a small, but specific menu and really good fries, but things seemed to balloon overnight.

Ten months later the duo opened Sebastian’s Table, a Midwest tapas-inspired restaurant.

They went from spitballing ideas over sandwiches to running three different restaurants in a matter of years. It was hard work and Erik and Gabe put in long hours those first few years because there was a lot at stake – they had wives, kids and mortgages. They dipped into their savings to try new things, take manageable risks and hire people they trusted.

Things were going well, but not every venture was a success. Eventually they shut down the GUP Kitchen food truck, they started and closed Sasquatch Cafe, Sasquatch Bakery and Como Se Taco. In the fall of 2015 they closed Sebastian’s Table.

“My all or nothing, dream big or go home mentality has played a factor in our successes and our failures,” Erik said. “And Gabe’s steadiness and conservative nature is the one of the reasons those successes didn’t crash…”

But it was through opening so many restaurants that Erik and Gabe learned what works and what doesn’t… and Honest Abe’s is what’s working really well, they said. It’s why they opened a second location downtown and why they’re thinking about expanding the brand even more.

It doesn’t mean they’re giving up on other restaurant ideas, not a chance, but they’ve learned a lot about how to run and maintain a restaurant in Lincoln.

As their business has grown, Erik and Gabe have learned how to step back, delegate and hire people they trust. They put a big emphasis on hiring the right group of people to create a culture that values people and the community.

They’ve also learned about themselves, how they work best together and what they’re not willing to sacrifice for their business.

These days, Erik said he gets to tuck his kids in at bedtime every night, and that’s not something he’s willing to compromise, and Gabe agrees.

The thing about Erik and Gabe is that they’re writing their own story. They’re not into industry standards or following strict guidelines. Instead, they’re propelled by their trust in each other and their belief in investing well in people.

Their collective story may have started with a band, a food truck and a conversation over a sandwich, but that’s not where this story ends.

Lawrence De Villiers


The son of a notable French politician, a member of the aristocratic De Villiers family, a comedian and a chef – Laurent De Villiers has been all of these things, and now he’s a Nebraskan.

These days Laurent goes by Lawrence, but that doesn’t mean he’s forsaken his heritage. He’s French through and through. You can tell by his accent, his general mannerisms and the fact that he owns The Normandy, a local French bistro.

His story is complicated. It spans continents and is marked by periods of rebellion, confusion, joy and renewal.

But Lawrence says his story really started went he met his wife, Renee.

The two met when Lawrence was doing volunteer work with a Catholic Franciscan order in the Bronx. Renee was working at a local shelter and the two quickly became friends. They were from very different backgrounds – Lawrence grew up in a high-brow, political family, Renee grew up in the small, laid-back town of McCool Junction.

After they started dating, Lawrence and Renee moved to Paris for a year before coming back to Nebraska and settling in Lincoln.

It was around this time that Lawrence noticed the lack of French cuisine in Lincoln. He craved it and realized the only place he could find it was in his own kitchen. So, he started small. He opened up a booth at the farmer’s market where he sold crepes and pastries and then started catering authentic French meals to his more eager customers.

Lawrence knew that he needed a full-scale restaurant, and Renee encouraged him to keep exploring this idea.

So, after a short stint in the Railyard’s Public Market, Lawrence bought a former bar and grill at the corner of 17th and Van Dorn streets and transformed it into his French bistro.

“It looked nothing like this when we moved in,” Lawrence said, looking around at his manicured dining room. “But it also took time.”

He was patient when it came to growing his business. He started with authentically French food that he catered to the palettes of Nebraskans and his atmosphere followed suite. In France, he said, you find a lot of small mom and pop shops that serve amazing food and that’s what he wanted to create in Lincoln.

He knew it didn’t need to be complicated, but it needed to be done right and that’s what he did.

Having a local restaurant in Lincoln is hard, it takes time, resources and lots of patience, but Lawrence does it for his family. He and his wife now have three daughters, and carving out a place for his restaurant and his family have become a major part of his story.

It’s a story he didn’t anticipate being his own, mostly, because it’s the opposite of so much of his early life.

Lawrence’s childhood was full of expectations. His family was wealthy and well-known and they hope he’d follow the same path, but early on Lawrence knew that wasn’t what he wanted.

He wanted to start something, run his own business, make and earn his own money – he wanted to be free of his family’s expectations. This search for freedom, along with marrying his wife are what led Lawrence to Lincoln.

It’s a place that’s vastly different from France, but also so different from his elite childhood. Lincoln has quickly become his home, and a chapter in his story that he’s proud to share with his customers.

“We’re not rich, but we’re making it,” he said. “I couldn’t find a better place to raise my children, for my marriage, for my relationships with people – we’re very blessed here.”

Angela Garbacz


Goldenrod Pastries is closed on Mondays and is quiet except for the occasional hum of the mixer.  

Angela Garbacz is starting with macarons – espresso macarons with just a hint of cardamom. She pipes out the purple macarons with a quick flick of her wrist and then adds a sprinkle of sanding sugar to the top before putting them in the oven.

“I’m really on a coffee kick right now,” she said. “Espresso is in everything.”

This type of creative baking is exactly how Angela pictured Goldenrod. She wanted her pastry case to be filled with an assortment of pastries guided by her gut feelings and the availability of locally sourced ingredients, all while catering to alternative diets.

And for the past year that’s exactly what she’s created.

One day the Goldenrod pastry case might be filled with towering layered cakes, dairy-free muffins and macarons, and the next it’s stacked with gluten-free almond cookies, fruit galettes, mini cupcakes and gooey vegan cinnamon rolls.

It’s what Angela pictured when she was dreaming up Goldenrod, but it’s also so much more than she expected.  

Angela said she can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t baking. It was her childhood hobby until she visited a restaurant that was in cooperation with a culinary school and realized baking could also be her career.

She got her Food Science degree at UNL, worked in a handful of restaurants and then attended the French Culinary Institute in New York. Shortly after she graduated from culinary school, Angela discovered her own dairy intolerance and began making pastries to accommodate her dietary needs.

When people found out she made dairy-free pastries they eagerly asked for gluten-free, vegan and other alternative diet baked goods and Angela started experimenting with various flours, sugars, fats and flavors.

She got so busy that she quit her day job and opened up Goldenrod Pastries in May 2015.

Opening Goldenrod gave Angela a place try out new things and really engage with her craft. She cooks with precision, but also leaves room for experimenting.

She loves watching singular ingredients merge and transform into a cohesive treat that’s both beautiful and tasty. It’s satisfying work to create and feed others, she said, and most of the time she just wants to give her pastries away.

That’s the thing about Angela, she didn’t start a bakery to get herself noticed or even to be her own boss, she did it to meet a need in Lincoln.

She started off simply with a blog and a few followers, but the day she opened her doors she had a line of people waiting to try her pastries.

She started off as a lone shopkeeper and baker and is now the boss to five hardworking employees.

She started off with a vacant space in the cutesy College View neighborhood and has transformed it into a place where life happens.

Angela and her staff have made cakes for sweethearts and expectant mamas, only to have them show up in the shop a few months later with engagement rings new babies. And last week a kid asked his girlfriend to go to prom with him at Goldenrod.

Angela is a woman with a clear creative vision, but even she didn’t anticipate the kind of growth and support she would receive from the community. Take one look at the Goldenrod Pastries Facebook or Instagram feed and you’ll notice people commenting, tagging friends and planning dates to meet up at the shop.

Goldenrod has become more than a place to eat pastries, it’s become a place where people want to be. It’s not something Angela manufactured or planned for, it just happened, and it’s beautiful.

So much of Goldenrod feels like home. It feels safe and comfortable, it makes you want to stay and be yourself. And all of Goldenrod is Angela. She didn’t just breed community out of nothing, she’s intentional about the way she runs her business, reaches out to customers and cares about her roots.

Her story has quickly become a part of Lincoln’s story. A story of creating and sharing, of welcoming and inviting.

“This is my life, this is everything I do,” Angela said, looking around her shop. “So if I’m not happy and grateful for everyone who comes in the door then it doesn’t matter, so I really don’t take a customer for granted.”

Allison Newgard


Every now and then Allison Newgard overhears someone refer to her as ‘the cookie lady.’

That kitschy title cues an internal eye roll, but here’s the thing, she actually fits that title pretty well. After all, she knows her recipes by heart, can smell when a cookie is done before it burns, makes her own vanilla extract and brown sugar…and she’s the owner of Kitchen Sink Cookie Company.

But the thing is, Allison is and was about 10 other things besides just ‘the cookie lady.’

When she was 21 Allison felt stuck, really stuck.

Living with her parents and 3-year-old son in her hometown of Hallowell, Maine, Allison had a college degree that she didn’t want to use and no idea what to do next.

Then came a question, “Allison, what did you want to do when you were eight years old?” posed her mother.

And with one question, Allison was unstuck.

She went to culinary school, graduated, worked in a restaurant kitchen, moved to Nebraska, worked at the University, moved back to Maine, then back to Lincoln, worked at three local restaurants and then started Kitchen Sink Cookie Company in 2014.

Her cookies are creative and spunky, with nostalgic flavor combinations like peanut butter, dried strawberries and Cheez-Its, inviting cafeteria flashbacks in her Magic Lunchbox cookie.

And while you might think baking cookies all day would be the best job in the world, it’s pretty demanding work. In a typical week she clocks of minimum of 10-12 hours each day, plus whatever farmers market she’s selling at on the weekend.

Sometimes she stops and thinks, “What am I doing? Why am I baking cookies??!?!”

She said she has plenty of doubts, but also tons of support from her husband and friends who keep her zoned in on the fact that being ‘the cookie lady’ is a big part of her story.

Allison knows her unorthodox cookies won’t change the world. They’re not actually magical or life-changing in that sense, but cookies are to Allison what hugs are to others – familiar and individually unique.

There’s no playing it safe when it comes to Kitchen Sink Cookies and that’s exactly how Allison knows it should be.

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