V.Mertz, nestled in the heart of Omaha’s Old Market Passageway, is a cultural and historical icon of yesteryear. The Old Market was once a bustling mercantile center and popular stopping point for travelers moving coast to coast. The building that homes V.Mertz, along with boutique shops, art galleries, and other eateries, dates back 100 years when it served as a fruit and vegetable cellar.
In the 1970s, the Mercer family, who owned many of the buildings downtown, worked to restore and maintain the Old Market’s dense history while giving it new life. One project they pursued was excavating the alleyway that ran through the main building on 10th and Howard. Archways were opened up and basements were made accessible, allowing for new businesses to occupy a once crumbling space.
V.Mertz was one of the original businesses to go in, opened by Mark Mercer as a french-style cafe and wine shop with access to the alleyway in the basement. He called it V Mertz, after his wife, Vera Mertz Mercer.
In the 1980s, V. MERTZ began the transition from casual cafe to a fine-dining restaurant. Today, under new ownership and vision, the restaurant captures both the art of fine-dining and creative cuisine in a relaxed and cozy environment that showcases its humble beginnings in the late 1800s.
On the eastern edge of Omaha Nebraska, where the streets are still paved with ancient, worn cobblestones and, even to this day, horse-drawn carriages co-mingle with the Hondas, Teslas, Treks, and Schwinns that are all but necessary to get around in the River City, there sits the Old Market, a remnant of a time long past. On the north side of Howard Street, half a block from where it ends, a tall, narrow wooden door leads into the "the Passageway". Down a steep flight of stairs, an indoor alleyway some three stories tall, made of brick and draped in freely growing flora rises up toward the sky. Pass Trini's Mexican restaurant and an art gallery, a small patio rests across from a gurgling fountain. The patio belongs to V. Mertz, objectively the best restaurant between Yountville and Chicago, and has for decades.
In the peaceful setting of the passageway and across from the entrance of V. Mertz, visitors will notice the famous sculptures of Eva Aeppli. Fountain of Erinnyesdiac consists of three abstract metal heads representing three demi-goddesses of Greek mythology: Alecto, Magaera, and Tisiphone.