The faces are familiar and the concept is comfortable.
“It’s a passing of the torch,” said Rachael King, co-owner of Bonnie Day, a new restaurant that opens Wednesday in Ruby West’s former home. “We are so grateful that the original owners had the foresight to transform the building into a fully licensed restaurant for the community.”
King and his partner, Brian Johnson, have taken over the tiny restaurant in the heart of Wolseley from former owners (and neighbors) Jamie and Laura Hilland and Pete and Erin Keating with plans to increase comfort and elevate the menu.
âLaura and I are very happy to see that the restaurant remains in the hands of another Wolseley family with similar values ââin wanting to create a space for community gathering,â Jamie said via email.
Ruby West opened in fall 2019 and Johnson has been the restaurant’s chef since day one.
Food is a passion, but other than running a not-quite-legal pizza place in his backyard for several years, Johnson doesn’t have much cooking experience. He’s excited to have Chef Pamela Kirkpatrick on board for the next iteration.
âWe reached out to these people who have a lot more experience than us and that’s great,â he says. “Pam has put the kitchen in good shape, but will continue to collaborate with me on the menu because she knows food is important.”
Kirkpatrick, of renowned Cake-ology and Forth Projects, has helped create a new menu that revolves around comfort food – cold cuts, pizza, burgers, risotto, macaroni and cheese, pavlova – and caters to vegan and intolerant diners. gluten. Tiny Bar bartender Josey Krahn also brought his mixology expertise to a new cocktail menu.
“It wasn’t like I wanted to come and fix anything,” Kirkpatrick said. “There are opportunities here and (King and Johnson) can take this place to the next 15 levels. I think my background in systems and organizations and human relations, too, fits so well.”
King, who is a photographer by trade and half of Luckygirl Creative, focuses on the atmosphere.
She joined the company in May and has been busy reinventing the dining room while learning the ropes of indoor food service.
The overhead lights were replaced with table candles, the carpet was removed and the walls were repainted.
âI think this space really needed to get more comfortable,â King said. “I imagine looking outside in the dead of winter and (the restaurant) glowing like an ember.”
His cousins ââHilary and Jimmy also joined the ownership group. It was therefore only fitting that the family business bears the name of a well-known family joke. The late David King, uncle and father of the owners, was a playwright with a penchant for one-liners.
âEvery time we all got togetherâ¦ we would empathize with where to go and break bread,â King said. “We were naming all of these different restaurants and as soon as we ran into the one he loved he was shouting ‘bonnie day’, which is a beautiful day in Scottish … and then also a good idea (good idea) in French.”
King and Johnson have lived and raised their family in Wolseley for approximately 18 years. They are eager to build on the restaurant’s legacy as a community gathering place – before Ruby West, the space at 898 Westminster Ave. housed the Neighborhood Cafe and Bookstore for over a decade.
âHaving a ship to house something that creates community in a very authentic way is really important to us,â says King. “And not to be totally focused on Wolseley, but also to bring other people into this neighborhood.”
Bonnie Day will open for dinner Monday through Saturday starting December 1. Unsurprisingly, King, who has hosted dozens of Luckygirl pop-up markets, is hoping to host pop-ups from chefs and artists in the restaurant. The owners are also considering adding extended daylight hours in the future for coffee drinkers.
Follow Bonnie Day (@bonniedayresto) on Instagram for more information.