One of Mt. Vernon’s newest restaurants, The Bonnie Café is already soaring to success at The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport. Opened May 2019, this is the restaurant’s 5th location. The Bonnie Café owns restaurants across Southern Illinois in Bonnie, Nashville, Centralia, West Frankfort, and now Mt. Vernon. Manager Matt Garofolo previously worked in the kitchen at all other four locations, before stepping into the Mt. Vernon team as a first-time manager. The original Bonnie Café opened in Bonnie, IL in 2012. Owners Brian and Melissa Hubbard opened the restaurant with hopes to provide a quality café to their hometown. Their business quickly took off and in just 5 years, Brian and Melissa were ready to expand. They decided on Nashville, IL in 2017 for their second location.
Several years prior to opening The Bonnie Cafe, Brian and Melissa owned a different restaurant at the Mt. Vernon Airport, so coming back and expanding The Bonnie Café to that location piqued their interest. They met with Airport manager, Chris Collins, who promised renovations to the space to provide what they would need. Brian and Melissa believed Mt. Vernon would prove to be successful because of its central location in the area, being closer to Bonnie than any of their other restaurants.
Although it has only been open a short while, The Bonnie Café at The Airport has already claimed several regular customers, many who come in to eat breakfast 4 to 5 times a week. “We have a lot of regulars. We see a lot of the same faces. That makes you feel good about the success of the place, to know that they enjoy it so much that they’ll come back day in and day out”, Matt comments. Workers from Bluford or Wayne City, commuting to Mt. Vernon will often stop in to eat on their way to work. Matt also mentioned that out of town visitors hear about The Bonnie Café on Facebook and stop in to eat while traveling. Some even make Bonnie Café their main destination! “One couple drove here from an hour and a half away just to try us out because they heard it was good”, Matt remarks.
Located inside an airport, The Bonnie Café has found ways to partner together with the facility. They have recently begun offering a new promotion, The Aviators Club. When pilots fly into the airport, they can receive a punch card for dining at The Bonnie Café and their 5th meal will be free! In addition, they offer 10% off for all active military, veterans, firemen, and police. The airport and Bonnie Café are currently partnering together to host a car, truck, and bike show on October 19th with vendors and possible competitions on the back side of the runway.
Matt believes it is important to eat locally because the money stays in Mt. Vernon. “I employ quite a few people here. Local owners equal local jobs.” The community supports the restaurant by not only eating there, but also liking and sharing their posts on Facebook. Matt posts The Bonnie Café buffet specials daily with pictures, so customers know what to expect. For Matt, the most rewarding aspect of managing the Bonnie Café is seeing the happy faces of customers. “Hearing all of the great comments about everything makes you feel like you did your job. It’s very rewarding.” He does note that managing a restaurant can come with challenges such as making sure all of the daily tasks get accomplished and keeping up with inventory.
Looking to the future, The Bonnie Café at the Mt. Vernon Airport hopes to continue building business in Mt. Vernon, add an ice cream machine, and start a weekend breakfast buffet. If you don’t have time to sit inside The Bonnie Café to enjoy your meal, they do offer carry out options and will deliver for a large group. They also have a banquet room inside the airport that can seat 80 to 100 people where you can enjoy a private buffet. If comfort food and classic home cookin’ is what you’re craving, head to The Bonnie Café for breakfast, lunch or dinner and see what the rave reviews are all about!