Gary Zesiger is savvy enough to realize steak houses are folding all over the country, largely because the average Joe can no longer pick up the hefty tab for a steak dinner with all the trimmings.
And that was bad news for the owner of T-Bonz, who was specializing in steaks and prime rib at his restaurant on a prime corner in downtown Enumclaw.
So, after investing a great deal of thought and research into a solution to his cash-flow dilemma, the sage entrepreneur opted to keep the T-Bonz name, but transform his eatery into a gourmet burger joint. It was out with the stuffy linen tablecloths and in with the green and white plastic tablecloths and paper napkins by the thousands.
“Use as many napkins as you want to, I guarantee we will never run out,” Zesiger promises.
The first Friday that T-Bonz opened with its new menu, the little place on the corner of Griffin Avenue and Wells Street set a one-day record.
“We got absolutely slammed,” Zesiger said. “People kept coming in and raving about the new product.”
Zesiger admits to putting his heart and soul into changing the way he does business, but that’s apparently OK.
“This place is my baby and it is worth all of the trouble when folks finish one of our Barnyard Burgers and tell me they will never eat a burger besides that one again,” he said, adding that his goal is to offer a great meal, every time.
Zesiger initially wondered if he was willing to go up against the mass-produced, assembly line burgers found everywhere.
Then he realized he could fill a special niche.
“It takes a good 10 minutes to hand-chop the fresh vegetables and grill the onions and mushrooms we put on each custom-made burger,” he said. “We still serve wine and beer here and make up our own potato chips and sweet potato fries, so people can sit and relax while we make their lunch or dinner. We’re never going to rush anyone out of this place.”
T-Bonz is open from 11 a.m. to closing time Tuesday through Saturday. Zesiger stressed that the shop’s closing time is opened-ended in that he begins to clean the kitchen at around 9 p.m., but if a customer wants a burger, they will oblige. The phone number is 360-825-2445.