Johnnie Byrd recognized

GREG AND KELLY PTACEK and their daughter, Alexis, 6, react after Don Polodna, president of First National Bank of Norfolk, unveils a framed newspaper during a ceremony at Johnnie Byrd Brewing Co. The brewery was named the Daily News and First National Bank’s emerging business of the year.

WAYNE — The community here, the chamber, the bank — each helped make into reality a Neligh couple’s dream of opening up a neighborhood brewery.

But no one more so than Kelly Ptacek herself.

Her husband, Greg Ptacek, said Kelly is not only a super mom, but an awesome brewery wife.

The Ptaceks and the Johnnie Byrd Brewing Co. were honored Wednesday as the recipients of the award for “emerging business” of the Norfolk Area Business Hall of Fame, presented by the Daily News and First National Bank of Norfolk.

The award is given to enterprises in Northeast Nebraska that have been in existence for five years or fewer.

Greg Ptacek said he had many thanks to give to those who helped get his business off of the ground, but it was really his wife who needed to be recognized first.

He said when he brought up the idea of a brewery a few years ago, Kelly was six months pregnant with their third child (they now have four).

“She looked at me like I was crazy, thought it was another pipe dream. But she said, ‘Hey, flush out the numbers, and we’ll see, we’ll talk about it,’ ” Greg Ptacek said.

He did just that, and he told his wife he thought they could work it out.

“But then I told her we’re going to have to move to Wayne (from Neligh), and she was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ ” Greg Ptacek said to a laughing audience.

The couple had to spend a year apart, as Kelly stayed in Neligh to take care of three children and Greg worked on the build-out of the brewery location in Wayne.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT from Wayne was another key ingredient to the brewery’s success, Greg Ptacek said.

“I could not have imagined a better support system for opening a business, and especially a business like a brewery. Wayne has been incredibly open-armed, not only just from the business sector, but our actual patrons,” Greg Ptacek said.

He went on to say that he probably wouldn’t have been able to open Johnnie Byrd without the help of the Wayne Chamber of Commerce, especially a business program it offered that put up $10,000 in matching funds.

The Ptaceks’ bank, State Nebraska Bank & Trust of Wayne, also pulled through for them, he said.

“When I went into the bank to talk, I was expecting to have to leverage the house and (put) seconds on everything and go after an SPA loan. But they just shook my hand and said, ‘Let’s do this thing.’ It doesn’t get much better than that,” Greg Ptacek said.

Don Polodna, president of First National Bank of Norfolk, said it was awesome how the Ptaceks networked with multiple resources in the area and the community to get their establishment up and running.

“It just absolutely looks like it’s a great addition to the City of Wayne and the area. ... It’s pretty amazing to get businesses that support the community, start up a new business and do things that successful communities operate,” Polodna said.

Greg Ptacek said he was honored to receive the award, and he thanked his patrons and Wayne for the support.

“It could have worked in Neligh where we were, but we knew it would work in Wayne, just the progressive attitude of the community. We knew this was going to be an actually nice spot to be able to invest in,” he said.

In other news

The Norfolk Senior Citizens Center serves congregate meals Mondays through Fridays at noon. Reservations for the meals are needed. These should be made the day of the desired meal or prior to 9:30 a.m. by calling the senior center, 402-371-8299 or 402-371-3930.