Ready and Rolling to Serve

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July 25, 2013
Restaurant Grand Opening Brings a Fresh Fusion to De Pere’s Broadway District. 
DE PERE, WI — There’s a fresh face on the culinary scene in downtown De Pere: Bonsai Sushi and Asian Cuisine. Although new to the block, the owners’ legacy in the business rivals the noble history of the neighborhood it joins. What sets Bonsai apart from the rest of the pack? They roll to serve—and they’re officially rolling out their menu and venue to the public with their grand opening on Thursday, August 1st at 4:00pm. It will also be preceded by an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 12:00pm in conjunction with the De Pere Chamber of Commerce. 
At the front and center of the operation is a trio of sushi restaurateurs who are on a mission to share their passion for customer service with Northeast Wisconsin; soon-to-be husband and wife team Chris Hanaway and Sara Tonnis, the founders and chief operators of the business, along with co-owner and head sushi chef, Ryan Pahl. Collectively they have nearly 30 years in the sushi industry—practice that translates to excellence when it comes to the overall dining experience. 
“We’ve all been in the business long enough to know that even the most delicious dishes lose their luster when the quality of service doesn’t match the craft of food. That’s why customer service is our top priority at Bonsai,” says Sara Tonnis, owner and general manager. “For us, it’s all about creating an experience that leaves a long-lasting positive impression on our patrons.” 

In just three short months, the familiar space formerly known as Metz’s on B Street has seen a total transformation through the efforts of S & M Contracting and the help of the whole Bonsai team. The owners have also taken extra care to keep their economic impact local from the get-go by patronizing local vendors like their neighbors Saltbox Lighting & Home Furnishings. 

“It’s the heart of our staff at Bonsai that makes this whole operation so special,” says Sara Tonnis, owner and general manager. “Not only are they all seasoned professionals with at least six years of experience in the industry, they’re also passionate people who share our vision for service and genuinely want to see this restaurant succeed. From the servers to the chefs, everyone has been pitching in with the renovation; it’s truly been a cooperative, grassroots effort so far, and we’d like to keep it that way moving forward.” 
From contemporary stone and glass tiling throughout, to a lofted skylight lounge that’s fully equipped for music and entertainment in the future, Bonsai has all the ingredients of a tranquil urban escape. It also showcases a 35-year-old bonsai tree that was locally and lovingly cultivated from seedling state by the Luxemburg-based company Plantscape. The owners say the tree and their company name are synonymous with the balance and harmony they seek to achieve in both their approach to business and the range of clientele they’re eager to serve. 

“We really wanted to create a place that makes sushi more approachable and accessible to everyone; a dining venue that feels comfortable and inviting to both newcomers and connoisseurs, couples and families alike,” says Chris Hanaway, owner, operator and chef. “We cater to all walks here because we believe everyone is entitled to a five-star experience.” 

As for the cuisine itself, Bonsai brings a creative blend of Asian infusions to the table, with influences from Korean, Thai, Chinese and Japanese fare. The menu offers a mix of both raw and cooked dishes with gluten-free food and beverage options as well. The restaurant also features a private party room and boasts a full bar with a large selection of Wisconsin microbrews, including Titletown beer on tap. 
Starting hours of operation will be Monday-Thursday from 4:00pm-9:00pm and Friday-Saturday from 4:00pm-10:00pm; reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more. Owners also say they’re willing to offer extended hours to accommodate all of the extra guests that are expected for their grand opening. 
In May the restaurant ran a teaser campaign during Celebrate De Pere, distributing stickers and mock raffle tickets for a chance to win free dinner—a promotion that has been extended to run through the end of August now. 
“There is definitely some hype out there about Bonsai, because we have had a ton of drop-in visitors during construction already and lots of traffic on our Facebook page,” says Ryan Pahl, head sushi chef. “Now it’s time to for us to serve up to our word—and we can’t wait for Northeast Wisconsin to taste what we’ve got in store!” 

Join the De Pere Chamber staff, Ambassadors and local officials at Noon, August 1st as we cut the ribbon to open this new destination!

The De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven organization focusing on the enhancement of economic development and the life experience in the De Pere Area. For more information about the         De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce please or call at (920)-338-0000

Sara Tonnis, Owner/GM