The company was founded in 1917 as a butcher shop in Omaha, Nebraska. It is a fifth-generation, privately held family business, that grew to become one of America’s largest marketers of beef.
Omaha butcher shop
J.J. Simon and his son, B.A., came to America to escape antisemitism. Passing through Ellis Island in 1898, they settled in Omaha because of the farmland’s similarity to their homeland Riga, Latvia. They worked for nearly 20 years as butchers for other people. In 1917, the family founded Omaha Steaks as a cattle carcass operation at 17th and Douglas Streets.
Table Supply Meat Co.
The Simon family bought a carpentry store, Table Supply Co., as the site for their meat-cutting business. To save money, B.A. moved the two letters “Co” to the right, inserted the word “Meat” and called their new company Table Supply Meat Co. By 1924, the business moved to a larger building at 1211 Howard Street, in the Old Market neighborhood, from which J.J. and B.A. began selling cuts of meat to local supermarkets, national grocery chains, hotel restaurants, and institutional customers.
B.A.’s son, Lester Simon, is credited with introducing Omaha Steaks across the US when he brokered a deal with the Union Pacific Railroad to begin serving Omaha Steaks in the dining cars of their transcontinental trains in the 1940s. Lester Simon hand-selected the meat for the Union Pacific passenger trains that traveled between Omaha and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Train passengers who ordered Omaha Steaks in Union Pacific’s dining cars prompted the company to launch its first mail order ventures – magazine ads and direct mail flyers – in 1952. Lester Simon also began shifting Table Supply’s focus from a butcher operation to the marketing of fine cuts of meat
In 1952, the first mail-order operation was launched to serve distant customers. The meat was shipped in wax-lined cartons filled with dry ice. It was not until the early 1960s that insulated shipping containers made of polystyrene and vacuum packaging became available. In 1961, Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison sent steaks from Table Supply to President John F. Kennedy and all of the governors in the United States. In that same year, Table Supply was honored to be involved in the Culinary Olympics held in Frankfurt, Germany, at which the United States team won the Grand Gold Prize with a dish that featured aged prime ribs of beef provided by Table Supply, thereby earning an international reputation for the Omaha company.
Omaha Steaks International
Omaha Steaks Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
In 1966, when the company moved into its southwest Omaha headquarters at 4400 S. 96th Street, the Simon family changed the name from Table Supply Meat Co. to Omaha Steaks International. The company plant remains at that site. The corporate offices are now at 10909 John Galt Boulevard. In the 1970s, Omaha Steaks added inbound and outbound call centers and a mail order industry-first toll-free customer service line. An automated order entry system was installed in 1987.
Omaha Steaks opened its first retail store in Omaha in 1976 when 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. Omaha Steaks underwent another expansion phase in the 1980s and 1990s, consolidating administration and marketing in two new buildings.
In 1985 the company ventured beyond Nebraska, opening a retail store in Houston. Omaha Steaks now has more than 85 retail stores in 29 states. Another area where Omaha Steaks focused on growth was its corporate sales unit, which it expanded upon in the mid-1990s. Omaha Steaks created a separate corporate catalog that was intended to serve the corporate buyers who were already customers. The effort soon began to pay off for Omaha Steaks. In just two years, the company was able to grow its corporate sales by 50 percent.
In 2004, Omaha Steaks began selling pet treats.