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Talus Elevates the Dining Experience

Like a mountain in the Midwest, restaurant owner Aron Mackevicius seeks to be different

Nestled along the rapidly developing Highway 370 corridor, near the northwest corner of 108th street, one can find a place more befitting for the Rockies, Andes, or even the Himalayan mountains. It’s out of the norm, but that’s the point of Talus Spirits & Sustenance.

“Trying to be different is the whole idea,” said co-owner and chef Aron Mackevicius. The word talus comes from the mountain term for the exposed slope of a mountain, often with exposed boulders, and this can be seen. Inspired by an alpine lodge, the restaurant has heavy wood, bronze, and other mountaineering themes, offering the Midwest a bit of the mountains.

This mountain theme goes beyond the decor, however, and reaches into the food. As Mackevicius said, “Mountain ranges split up in different parts of the world.” The flavors of mountain ranges worldwide inspire Mackevicius’ menu when combined with comfort-style foods in what he called comfort fusion cuisine. Meal options experiences include the Coffee Dusted Salmon, Mt. Fuji Mushroom Risotto, or the Talus Fish Tacos.

What’s not directly seen, but rather felt, in the menu is Mackevicius’ story.

Prior to opening in August of 2022, the Talus building had sat near-empty for two years due to Covid protocols and delays. Mackevicius shared how he was brought on as part-owner that February prior to opening.

“I’ve always worked for someone else,” he said. Mackevicius has worked as a chef for more than 25 years, with ample experience with the Omaha food scene. Seeing the opportunity to bring a dining experience—“not a dining option,” in his words—to the Papillion community was one he wanted to take. And so, he was involved in almost every part of development.

“If I’m going to do it, I’m doing it differently,” he said.

For example, Mackevicius said that Talus bar will “always and forever” feature only Nebraska and Iowa breweries on its eight-tap handle. The spirits in the restaurant's from-scratch cocktails come from small, mom-and-pop distilleries. Mackevicius himself curates the wine list. The idea is to offer unique and affordable drinks that may be harder to find even in your local grocery store. The owner credits this practice to his belief that local supports local, and he will continue to search for local breweries and distilleries to continue this practice.

Mackevicius showcases these local breweries with special beer dinners. While typically closed on Sundays, the restaurant hosts these special events to highlight local brews paired with available menu items.

And while the menu may change seasonally, two “always and forever” items will be found. These come from a more personal inspiration for Mackevicius.

A father of two, Mackevicius shared how his daughters often helped in the kitchen and were excited to learn. His oldest, Taylor Tylkowski, even went on to compete on a culinary team in high school, earning a scholarship at the Metropolitan Community College's Institute for the Culinary Arts.

Tragically, due to an accident, Taylor passed away before she could complete her education. She lives on, however, inside Talus.

During her studies abroad in Peru, Taylor created a Peruvian Corn Chowder, whose flavors inspired Mackevicius' chowder of the same name. The other menu item that will always be found is the Buffalo Chicken Gouda Mac, which was Taylor's favorite combination when she and Mackevicius worked together in the Old Market's Twisted Fork.

"It's one of the number one dishes we have ordered," Mackevicius said.

He said his daughter's presence has been in the restaurant for as long as he has.

"Every day, I come in, get to see that on the wall," he said, pointing to the large T-shaped logo. "From the second I walked in, I could feel the warmth and knew she was with me."

Another way Taylor lives on is through community events and scholarships in her honor. "I continue to do what I can do for the community," Mackevicius said, and the Papillion community has reciprocated the support.

"The support has been amazing," he said, citing some patrons are not just weekly regulars but even daily. "It's amazing to give to the people who've waited so long."

"From the second I walked in, I could feel the warmth and knew she was with me."

  • Aron Mackevicius, co-owner and chef of Talus Spirits and Sustenance in Papillion.