Screamers Dining & Cabaret Restaurant, located on 9th and Q streets, had its grand opening Jan. 22, 2018.

Every five to 10 minutes, a restaurant server sets their tray to the side, passes the table they’re serving to another employee and takes the stage to perform one song. Three or four other employees follow suit soon after.

When the mini-show is finished, business resumes as usual.

In January this year, a new restaurant opened in Lincoln. Although that may be ordinary in the city, Screamers Dining & Cabaret is something different.

“Probably my favorite thing about working [at Screamers] is that it’s an adventure environment,” said Logan Langholdt, a second-year senior music education major who has worked at the restaurant since it opened in January.

Langholdt is one of about 15 high school and college students who work at the restaurant, part of owner Kevin Witcher’s goal to provide a platform to students interested in performing, so they can learn and grow.

The inspiration for a cabaret restaurant came from the Scarlet & Cream Singers, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s former show choir. Witcher was part of the show choir when he was in school, and said it was important for his development as a performer.

“I wanted Screamers to be that for students,” Witcher said.

As a server, Langholdt performs regularly, and he said his typical style leans toward crooners like Elvis and Sinatra. He performs those artists so often he said Witcher has taken to introducing him as the “Sinatra of the prairie” when he performs.

Other servers in the restaurant sing a variety of music from pop and dance to musical theater and power ballads.

Aguel Lual, a senior theatre major and another server, said she sings a lot of pop and musical theater. But her style is more informed by the time of day she normally works.

Lunch shifts at the restaurant are special because every day of the week is themed around a different decade, starting with the 1950s on Monday and ending in the 1990s on Friday. Langholdt said those are some of the best shifts because employees have the chance to dress up and play a part.

Lual works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so most of the songs in her repertoire are from the 1960s and 1980s.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I actually enjoy going to work every day.”

Some of Lual’s songs include “Think” by Aretha Franklin and “Tell It to My Heart” by Taylor Dayne.

Lual said she’s worked at the restaurant since it opened, and one of the best parts about the job is the ability to try out new singing techniques and experiment with her voice.

“It’s a great job,” she said. “I love it.”

As a theatre major, Lual said she needs flexibility when she has rehearsals and shows going on, and Witcher works with her so her schedule fits around her other responsibilities.

“He really does care about the employees,” Langholdt said. “He wants to give people who have potential a platform.”  

Langholdt knew Witcher from a production they were in together and started working at the restaurant as soon as it opened.

Lual and Langholdt both said being at work is like being part of a family.

“Everyone’s helping out,” Lual said. “We usually have enough people working at a time to pick up gaps.”

To join the staff, Langholdt said applicants must apply and audition for Witcher and a manager. Once hired, he said people develop a repertoire of about 10 songs they can perform. To add songs to their roster, they simply have to pitch and perform it in front of Witcher and the staff.

Working at the restaurant is special to Langholdt because people come in for the experience — they don’t just eat, drink and leave.

“The energy is always high and the audience is always taken into it,” Langholdt said.