With a small stone building in the Warehouse Arts District of east Lawrence, the owners that brought The Burger Stand at the Casbah to the community have introduced a new kind of dining: an eclectic global cuisine bistro, BonBon.
"We just wanted a place where we can cook the food we want to eat besides a burger," said Simon Bates, owner of The Burger Stand restaurant group. "A creative outlet to just, not necessarily experiment, but just cook some good food for the neighborhood and just for whoever wants to come over here in a really cool atmosphere."
Along with his wife Codi, Bates crafted the facility and menu for the newly opened establishment to be flexible to the hankerings one might have throughout the day. This includes grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options and traditional dishes people will recognize, such as salad bowls and chicken wraps. Adding to the flexibility is that the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until last call at its equally global bar. With this, Bates said BonBon is focused on recreating and amplifying the comfortable vibe of The Burger Stand that has made it a downtown staple.
BonBon officially opened to the public three weeks ago after a year and a half of research and getting the right pieces together. This included a 40-day global trip that took Bates to countries like Austria and Thailand. The food at BonBon opens up the local palate to food Bates cooked and ate while overseas, including an assortment of dishes featuring Asian bao buns and a lineup of natural vegetables grown in the garden across the street from the restaurant.
Beau Burns, director of operations for the restaurant group, has overseen management placement and rollout of Bates' vision for BonBon. The key attributes of BonBon are its use of natural ingredients and ability to make people feel comfortable to sit down and enjoy fresh food.
This includes the decor featured inside the restaurant. The material for the wooden banquettes and table tops, for instance, Burns said comes from an oak tree the Bates family had in their own yard. After careful construction, the banquettes lining the stone walls give off a comfy feeling and "make you feel as though there are a lot of people meant to be here," according to Burns.
"We really try to make everything as visually grasping as possible without it being uncomfortable," Burns said.
Bates and company worked on having a comfortable dining experience at both Burger Stand locations in Topeka and Lawrence. First opened in Lawrence in 2009, The Burger Stand wasn't originally supposed to be an integral part of Bates' culinary success.
"The Burger Stand was, we thought, just something that would be a hobby or something to get us a little bit of cash until we could do our fine-dining restaurant," Bates said. "We opened it thinking it wouldn’t be as successful as it was. And then it was really successful. We are still busy as ever and gaining momentum and growing."
Recently The Burger Stand at the Casbah was named the 12th best burger joint in America by Business Insider. While Bates said BonBon isn't looking to have the same kind of success, he hopes it will find a nice niche with its surrounding neighborhood.
"We’re not just trying to get money, because if we wanted to do that we would just keep opening up Burger Stands, but we believe in our town and creativity and we wanted to do something new. Something that Lawrence hasn’t seen. Our menu is kind of all over the place. There’s something unique here," Bates said.
BonBon is located on 806 Pennsylvania St. For menu and more information, visit bonbonlawrence.com.
—Edited by Cody Schmitz