Omaha Steaks

Omaha Steaks International, Inc., known as Omaha Steaks, is a food retailer. The company is named after the city it was founded in, and its headquarters location, Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha Steaks manufactures, markets, and distributes a variety of steaks, meat, seafood, and some prepared foods. The company was an early pioneer in direct mail sales and online marketing.

Omaha Steaks
TypePrivately held family business
IndustryMail order
Gourmet food
HeadquartersOmaha, Nebraska
Number of employees
1,500 (2022)


Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon

In 1850, Lazar Shames founded a packing house and meat market in Riga, Latvia.[1] In 1898, his son J.J. and his family fled religious persecution in Latvia and came to the United States as part of the third wave of Jewish immigration to the country.[2][3] They passed through Ellis Island, chose Simon as their American name, and eventually arrived in Omaha, which was experiencing a population surge due in part to the development of the meat packing industry.[2][4] J.J. and his son B.A. worked as butchers for many years, and then in 1917 the family started their own meat-cutting operation.[2][5] The business was located in downtown Omaha in the current location of the First National Center.[5] The previous occupant in that space had been a carpentry shop called "Table Supply Co." and the Simons changed the name to Table Supply Meat Co.[5][6]

The butchery established a reputation for fine cuts of loin, boneless strips, ribs, and ribeyes.[5] In 1924, the Simons moved the business to a new location in what is now Omaha's Old Market neighborhood and began selling their cuts of beef to local supermarkets and national chain grocery stores, hotel restaurants, and institutional customers.[5][6]

In 1929, B.A. Simons' son Lester joined the business and helped expand its distribution.[2] In the 1940s, Lester brokered a deal with the Union Pacific Railroad to begin serving Omaha Steaks in the dining cars of their transcontinental trains.[6] Lester selected the meat for the passenger trains that traveled between Omaha and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.[5][6] The mail-order business began in 1952, as orders packed in dry ice and cardboard cartons lined with wax paper were shipped via train.[6][7] In the early 1960s, innovations in shipping like insulated-foam coolers, vacuum packaging, and direct parcel shipping helped Omaha Steaks transform itself into a direct marketer.[7][8] Catalogs were mailed to customers for the first time in 1963,[5] and gradually expanded to include not only steaks, but poultry, pork, seafood, side dishes, and desserts.[6] In 1966 the company changed its name to Omaha Steaks and moved to a new plant.[5]

Omaha Steaks opened its first retail store in Omaha in 1976.[5][6] Before then, buying a product from the company was limited to eating at certain restaurants that offered their products or ordering meats from its mail-order catalog.[6] In 1984, half of the company's sales came through such catalogs along with other direct mail campaigns, and the other half came through sales to restaurants, hotels, and institutions.[9] In 1985, the company expanded its retail operations beyond Nebraska, opening a store in Houston,[5] and as of 2021 it operated 48 total retail stores in 20 states.[10]


Omaha Steaks products are shipped in coolers with dry ice.[11] The company also operates retail stores, which carry the same products offered through mail order.[6] The company uses a variety of marketing techniques, including mail order, retail sales and Internet-based sales.[12]

As of 2017, the company was led by Lester's son and grandson, Alan and Bruce Simon, and Bruce's cousin Todd Simon.[13] Bruce Simon was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Omaha Steaks until his death in 2021. Todd Simon assumed the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Nate Rempe continued in his roles as President and Chief Operating Officer.[14]

Omaha Steaks is the 22nd largest employer in the city of Omaha.[15] The company hires 2,500 seasonal employees, some of whom are hired to add to company's permanent work force of about 1,500.[16][17] Omaha Steaks is the largest small parcel direct shipper of gourmet foods in the US. Its 400-item product line generates revenue of about $450 million in annual sales[16] – a total of about 4 million packages a year.


Omaha Steaks logo, typically seen on boxes steaks are shipped in

Omaha Steaks was an early adopter of digital marketing.[18][19][20] The company placed its first online ad on CompuServ in 1991,[21][22] and by 1995 it had a robust presence on America Online and a fully functional website.[23][24] Through these platforms, the company was receiving around 20,000 responses a month.[24] Omaha Steaks became part of the Microsoft Network in 1998 and launched a Japanese website in 1999.[20] That same year the company opened new corporate and marketing offices next to its expanded telemarketing facility.[20]

In 2014 an Oregon man brought a class action suit against Omaha Steaks for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 after receiving unwanted robocalls from the company.[25] The suit was settled for $2 million in 2016.[26]

Chef James Beard served as a spokesperson for the company in the 1970s and cookbook author Merle Ellis served as a spokesperson in the 1980s.[27] In 2010, Omaha Steaks was granted a trademark for the phrase "The Official Sponsor of Tailgating."[28] In October 2020, Omaha Steaks announced that chef David Rose would serve as the company's executive chef and spokesperson, and also consult on product development.[29][30]


Omaha Steaks and the Simon family support local and national charities and arts organizations, as well as education scholarships.[31][32] Organizations supported by the company and family have included Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts,[33] Film Streams,[34] Santa Fe Opera.[35] Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,[36] National Multiple Sclerosis Society,[36] American Heart Association,[36] American Cancer Society,[36] and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.[36] The company also works with Feeding America.[37]

Works or publicationsEdit



  • Harrisson, John, and Frederick J. Simon. Omaha Steaks: Let's Grill. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2001. ISBN 978-0-6096-0776-3
  • Harrisson, John, and Frederick J. Simon. Omaha Steaks Meat. New York, N.Y: C. Potter, 2001. ISBN 978-0-6096-0777-0
  • Simon, Frederick J, John Harrisson, and Mark Kiffin. The Steaklover's Companion: 170 Savory Recipes from America's Greatest Chefs. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. ISBN 978-0-0601-8781-1 Adapts dishes from recipes developed by James Beard, who had been an Omaha Steaks consultant for many years.
  • Simon, Frederick J, and John Harrisson. A year of beef recipes : beef for all seasons. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN 978-0-0601-9382-9
  • The Great American Grilling Book. New York: Time, Inc. Home Entertainment, 2008. ISBN 978-1-6032-0020-2
  • Omaha Steaks International good life guide and cookbook, a yearly volume
  • Great Gathering Guide & Cookbook, a free cookbook and cooking guide with coupons

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "Omaha Steaks Builds". The Associated Press. January 28, 1984 – via Nexis. The company's origin traces to Riga, Latvia, where Lazar Shames founded a packing house and meat market in 1850. His son and grandson came to the United States in 1898, choosing Simon as their American name and Omaha as their home.
  2. ^ a b c d Zalman, Jonathan (August 31, 2017). "Omaha Steaks, Begun by Latvian Jewish Immigrants, Turns 100". Tablet. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Gendler, Carol (March 1, 1968). The Jews of Omaha: The first sixty years (Thesis). University of Nebraska at Omaha. Retrieved March 9, 2022. The third wave of Jewish immigrants arrived in the United States from eastern and southeastern Europe between 1891 and 1900. The expulsion of 20,000 Jews from Moscow in 1891 was the immediate cause of this movement of population. Between I89O and the fall of 1892, when an outbreak of typhus temporarily halted immigration from eastern Europe, more than 100,000 Jews, most of them from Russia, entered the United States.
  4. ^ Gendler, Carol (March 1, 1968). The Jews of Omaha: The first sixty years (Thesis). University of Nebraska at Omaha. Retrieved March 9, 2022. Nebraska prospered in the 1880s. While the population of the state more than doubled in the decade between 1880 and 1890, that of Omaha increased from 30,000 to more than 140,000—an increment of 358 percent in ten years. Much of Omaha's growth was due to the development of the meat packing industry.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Finney, Daniel P. (March 5, 2002). "Name says it all for Omaha Steaks History of Omaha Steaks". Omaha World-Herald – via Nexis.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alexander, Deborah (May 16, 2006). "5 Generations Have Kept the Sizzle in Omaha Steaks". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on 2015-02-14. Retrieved March 9, 2022 – via RedOrbit.
  7. ^ a b Ruff, Joe (December 1, 2000). "Omaha Steaks is Family Business That Sizzles With Holiday Orders". The Associated Press – via Nexis. The mail-order business began in 1952 when Lester Simon, J.J.'s grandson, started using trains to ship steaks packed in dry ice and cardboard cartons lined with wax paper. Plastic-foam coolers, vacuum packaging and direct parcel shipping later helped send the direct mail business into high gear.
  8. ^ Soderlin, Barbara (December 10, 2000). "Durham Museum exhibit chronicles company's growth, community impact". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  9. ^ "Omaha Steaks Builds". The Associated Press. January 28, 1984 – via Nexis. The Gourmet Foods Division, which sells to the consumer through catalogs and other direct mail campaigns, accounts for about half of Omaha Steaks' sales, Simon says. The other half comes from the Foodservice Division, which sells to restaurants, hotels and institutions.
  10. ^ "Omaha Steaks announces death of Bruce Simon, CEO". The National Provisioner. BNP Media. February 18, 2021. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  11. ^ Drickhamer, David (December 12, 2006). "Peak Seasoning at Omaha Steaks". MH&L: Material Handling & Logistics. Archived from the original on 2015-06-06. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
  12. ^ "Company Overview of Omaha Steaks International, Inc". Business Week. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  13. ^ Zalman, Jonathan (2017-08-31). "A Century of Meat: Omaha Steaks, Begun by Latvian Jewish Immigrants, Turns 100". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  14. ^ Biga, Leo Adam (June 21, 2012). "Cousins Bruce and Todd Simon Continue the Omaha Steaks Tradition". B2B Magazine. Leo Adam Biga Blog. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Largest Employer List" (PDF). Select Greater Omaha. Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership. April 8, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  16. ^ a b Waters, Pat (October 14, 2010). "Omaha Steaks seeks seasonal hires". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  17. ^ Ryan McCarthy (July 16, 2020). "Omaha Steaks chairman dies". Meat+Poultry.
  18. ^ Hanacek, Andy (November 9, 2020). "Omaha Steaks: 'Direct' success". The National Provisioner. BNP Media. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  19. ^ Biga, Leo Adam (June 15, 2010). "This Version of Simon Says Positions Omaha Steaks as a Food Service Juggernaut". The Jewish Press. Retrieved March 9, 2013 – via Issuu.
  20. ^ a b c Laseter, Timothy M.; Rabinovich, Elliot (2011). Internet Retail Operations: Integrating Theory and Practice for Managers (Supply Chain Integration Modeling, Optimization and Application). US: CRC Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-1439800911. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  21. ^ "SEM Beefs Up Online Sales For Omaha Steaks". Chief Marketer. Access Intelligence. December 7, 2005. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  22. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (December 25, 1993). "Cyberspace Is Looking a Lot Like Christmas". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  23. ^ Keefe, Robert (November 27, 1995). "There's the hard way … // … and there's the easy chair". St. Petersburg Times – via Nexis. Similarly, Omaha Steaks International, which has 32 retail stores across the country (including two in Tampa) and a burgeoning catalog business, now reaches customers on the CompuServe and America Online networks. It also has its own home page on the Internet's World Wide Web.
  24. ^ a b Norris, Melinda (October 8, 1995). "Billboards in Cyberspace: Ads Cruise Onto Internet Definitions". Omaha World-Herald – via Nexis. The nation's largest direct marketer of steaks and other gourmet foods established an electronic, multicolored pictorial catalog on America Online and the World Wide Web in August and receives about 20,000 responses a month.
  25. ^ Laura Gunderson (January 10, 2014). "Gresham man sues Omaha Steaks over repeated, unwanted sales calls". The Oregonian.
  26. ^ Andrew Warner (January 7, 2022). "The Untold Truth Of Omaha Steaks". Mashed.
  27. ^ Kelly, Susan (October 22, 2020). "Omaha Steaks appoints executive chef". Marketing & Technology Group. Retrieved March 9, 2022. Omaha Steaks has had a history of working with prominent people in the food world, having had famed chef James Beard as a spokesperson in the 1970s and cookbook author Merle Ellis as a spokesperson in the 1980s. Julia Child, the famed cooking teacher, author and TV celebrity, also was known to have sought out the company’s products in the 1990s.
  28. ^ "Official Sponsor of Tailgating". November 27, 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  29. ^ McCarthy, Ryan (October 26, 2020). "David Rose joins Omaha Steaks as executive chef". Meat + Poultry. Sosland Publishing. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  30. ^ Zimmer, David M. (November 6, 2020). "Bergen County's 'southern' chef David Rose is the new face of Omaha Steaks". USAToday Network. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  31. ^ Bort, Mary (September 14, 2012). "Omaha Steaks: A family business and family tradition cookbook". The Jewish Press. Retrieved March 9, 2013 – via Issuu.
  32. ^ "The Omaha Steaks Story (Heritage Brochure)" (PDF). Omaha Steaks. 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  33. ^ "Board & Staff: Todd Simon, Vice President". Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Archived from the original on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
  34. ^ Konigsberg, Eric. "When Omaha Met Cinema". March 16, 2008. The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  35. ^ "2013 Santa Fe Opera Board Members". The Santa Fe Opera. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  36. ^ a b c d e "Human Nature". metroMAGAZINE. ALH Publications. May 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013 – via Issuu. Over the years, Bruce has been actively involved on the boards of numerous philanthropic organizations and remains a strong supporter of organizations including the Omaha Performing Arts Society, Omaha Symphony, Joslyn Art Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Heart Association and the Armed Forces Foundation, to name just a few.
  37. ^ Spinney, Kimberley (December 8, 2012). "Omaha Steaks has released their own holiday song to help Feeding America". Fansided. Retrieved March 9, 2020.

External linksEdit