RACINE — Betty Bonner must be beaming with pride about her grandson’s brand-new Downtown restaurant named in her honor, Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen.
Kimyron Bonner, 38, opened his new breakfast-lunch restaurant Tuesday at 327 Main St. Although he is the sole owner-operator and head chef, Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is a family affair including Bonner’s cousin, Dionte Dyess, who is manager/chef.
Bonner said about naming his restaurant after his grandmother, “She taught us to cook.”
So did Gateway Technical College; Bonner is a graduate of its culinary program. For the past several years, he worked in the foundry at Premier Aluminum, did a little catering on the side from his home kitchen, and then started building his Downtown restaurant.
“This has been my dream. I’ve been working on this since I was, like, 15 in my head,” Bonner said, and chuckled.
The build-out at 327 Main St., cost a significant amount; the interior is all new, with realigned kitchen walls that roughly doubled the size of the formerly tiny kitchen, and all brand-new kitchen equipment including a new hood.
Bonner chose to be open the grueling hours of 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days. “I felt that it’d work here,” he said. “There’s not a lot of breakfast places around here — not one with my menu, that serves the type of food that I serve.”
By opening so early, he hopes to catch third-shift workers before they head home, truckers and people who work early at the Downtown YMCA. “I come down here and this place is like a ghost town (that early),” Bonner said. “I want to bring some life around here.”
‘A little southern’
Bonner describes his food category as “a little southern, a little New Orleans.”
“It’s a basic breakfast menu,” he said. “And I just added my specialties that I picked, and created and put my little spin to.”
The Southern Breakfast skillet dish, for example, includes hash browns or home fries, two eggs any style, and atop those, “I put a big, juicy pork chop, then I put gravy over that,” with toast, for $9.
Shrimp and grits for $8.69; catfish and grits for $6.65; chicken and waffles for $8.39; biscuit and gravy for $5.59; and fried green tomatoes, in season, also fit the southern food category.
In keeping with Bonner’s honor-thy-family theme, he has a dish named for his late uncle Rickey Bonner that promises to pack a punch: Rickey’s Ridiculous Chicken Sandwich, with spicy mayonnaise, spicy chicken, pickles, slaw and jalapenos.
“He loved spicy sandwiches and chicken. So I decided to make a signature sandwich after him,” Bonner said.
He is using as many natural food ingredients and local sources as he can. Bonner said, as examples, he gets his seafood from Houmann’s Fish & Seafood in Racine, his meats from an Elkhorn-area farm and cage-free eggs from the same area. Neither farmer uses antibiotics or other unnatural additives in the animal feed, Bonner said.
Mrs. Betty’s serves Ridgeline coffees.
“Downtown Racine has become a foodie destination in the last year; the diversity of restaurants is incredible,” said Kelly Kruse, executive director of Downtown Racine Corp. “Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is a great addition to that synergy.”
Mrs. Betty’s Kitchen is open 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 262-800-3020 (must dial the area code).