Tag Archives: Ethan Bondelid

Bold and Bonded

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Don’t call them a power couple, but Ethan and Susan Bondelid definitely fit the mold.

Through their development company, Maven Social, the Bondelids have built an impressive brand by starting up some truly creative businesses that run the gamut from hair salons to speak-easies. Their most recent startup is Monarch Prime & Bar, an upscale restaurant located inside
Hotel Deco.

“I’ve been opening businesses as long as I can remember,” Ethan says. “I’ve only been in the bar and restaurant business for seven years now.”

Despite being a newbie, Ethan and company (along with Susan, he’s had several partners) have made a big noise in Omaha’s fast-moving and thriving hospitality industry.

House of Loom was one early success, followed by The Berry & Rye. Maven Social then began the salon Victor Victoria, before opening speak-easy Wicked Rabbit, pizza parlor Via Farina, Laka Lono Rum Club, and now Monarch.

“Ethan has been an entrepreneur since the day I met him when we were only 20 years old,” Susan says. “His ambition and proactive nature have been inspirations for me since day one.”

A fierce attention to detail has been another key to success. Maven properties are uniquely designed and incredibly decorated down to finest minutiae, such as the rabbit coat hooks at Wicked Rabbit.

“We are about creating unique experiences,” Susan says. “Life is hard. We want places for people to go to take a breather and relax, maybe get inspired, and then take on their next day with new energy.”

Vital to creating those experiences is finding the right employees to help pull it off. “I think the No. 1 challenge facing new business today is talent. And taxes,” Susan says.

Why is Omaha such a good investment for new business?

“For us, Omaha has always been incredibly supportive of people trying to do something, both in the arts and in business,” Ethan says. “Omaha also makes it easier to get started. Resources needed can be more accessible, and the level to entry is lower than in some markets.”

It doesn’t hurt, Susan adds, that Omaha’s her hometown. “We love the people and the spirit,” she says. “We’re in the midst of a major growth and it’s super exciting. We’re right at the beginning of our potential, and everyone here has the opportunity to shape the city.”

Operating a thriving business and being a couple does have advantages, but it takes commitment. “You have to know when—and always remind each other—to turn it off and switch gears for family time,” Ethan says. The Bondelids have two children, Cai and Ava. “We need to also be conscious of how it can be difficult for other team members to navigate a husband-and-wife management.”

Susan says it helps that they share a basic foundation of support. “And we have each other’s backs,” she says.

What advice would the Bondelids give to first-time business owners?

“It depends on the business type of course, but ultimately it will always come down to the teams you surround yourself with,” Ethan says.

Susan urges new business owners to seek out other business owners and ask questions. “There’s a great support network in Omaha to utilize, and we’re all hoping for the best for each other,” she says. “The more unique, successful businesses, the more we look attractive to the nation as a whole and the more we’ll grow. Also, get your important people in place, such as lawyers, accountants, insurance agents. They’ll help your business in more ways than one.”

Ethan refuses to pick his favorite startup. “That would be like picking a favorite band,” he says. “They all have their share of victories and heartaches.”

“House of Loom is and will always be my favorite,” Susan says. “It was my first business baby and we all poured our hearts into it, from the Victorian furniture to the menu to the unique music/cultural programming. Ethan and I learned the service industry firsthand from paperwork to barbacking to bartending. We learned the difference of using fresh ingredients in cocktails and really strived to make all peoples heard and known. We had an amazing family there. Also, it was a…ton of fun.”

Visit mavensocialgroup.com for more information.

This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Flour Road Paved with Dough

October 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Paul Kulik was a 20-year-old line cook, he knew restaurants would play an integral part of his life; little did he know that he would become a renowned part of Omaha’s culinary history, and one if its innovative executive chefs and restaurateurs.

Adding to his repertoire of restaurants in and around the Old Market, the talented owner of Le Bouillon and Boiler Room teamed up with local bar owner and design expert Ethan Bondelid and graced the public with the May opening of Little Italy’s newest pizza and pasta sensation, Via Farina.

“The appeal of pizza and pasta is very broad. It’s family-friendly, and has a sweet spot for all ages. Pricing our menu accordingly, not being overly pretentious, having fun, and bridging the demographic gap so that it is a place for everyone was important to our success.”

-Paul Kulik

Inspired by living abroad for a year in France during high school, Kulik fell in love with the food-oriented way of European life, the integrity of each course, and the quality of farm-to-table fare.

viafarina1“I had to meander a bit to find my passion,” Kulik confesses of his early adulthood. “But I could not imagine food not being a part of my future.”

A self-described “Francophile,” Kulik has long been obsessed with everything French, but a trip to Italy was the catalyst for his concept of creating an Italian eatery that even an Italian native would appreciate. All of that, he knew, lay in the craftsmanship of the dough.

“The process of making it fresh and of the highest quality is the difference,” says Bondelid, Kulik’s former roommate.

“The appeal of pizza and pasta is very broad. It’s family-friendly, and has a sweet spot for all ages,” explains Kulik. “Pricing our menu accordingly, not being overly pretentious, having fun, and bridging the demographic gap so that it is a place for everyone was important to our success.”

The owners received overwhelming support from the opening day of Via Farina, which translates to “Flour Street” in Italian. Thanks to their impressive collaboration—Kulik’s background in all things food-related and Bondelid’s knowledge of beverages and design—the inviting atmosphere blends an industrial sophistication with an inviting ambiance.

viafarina3The centerpiece of the establishment is their open kitchen’s dramatic wood-fired oven, manufactured in Italy and adorned with Egyptian tile, designed to retain heat. The south wall of the restaurant pictures a giant backdrop sketch of a Vespa’s assembly, modern globe pendant lights hang from the ceiling crisscrossed with natural wood beams, there is a backlit bar, and a DJ spins hits from classic vinyl. Out front is a refreshing patio and a trio of cheery yellow Vespas waiting patiently to deliver gastronomic masterpieces to famished locals. 

The menu features 11 unique pizzas, six pasta dishes, and an authentic selection of Italian appetizers. Patrons can expect to be impressed by the locally sourced meats, cheeses, herbs, and vegetables. The sauces, dough, and pasta are all made in-house using a unique process. Each menu item also features wine recommendations, chosen with Bondelid’s expertise.

“We’ve been very fortunate Via Farina has struck a positive chord with the public,” says Bondelid. Kulik adds, “We want to make sure we continue to accomplish the quality we’ve been providing since our opening. Restaurants are living, breathing things, and you always have to improve and evolve.”

Via Farina welcomes guests on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Visit goviafarina.com for more information.

Encounter

viafarina2

Crafty Cocktails

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

House of Loom owners Brent Crampton and Ethan Bondelid finally took the plunge and dove headfirst into a new entrepreneurial endeavor, The Berry & Rye. Tucked away in the former Myth Cocktail Lounge at 1109 Howard Street, The Berry & Rye is a craft cocktail lounge with a unique objective in mind.

“I love the culture of the drink experience behind the craft. It’s a very soulful approach to imbibing,” Crampton explains. “Something I get to experience often is friends getting together to order these labor-intensive drinks that have lots of creativity and skill put into them, and enjoy good conversation in this sit-back-and-take-your-time kind of atmosphere. Then, when the drinks arrive at your table, people are so intrigued by their drinks, they become a conversation piece.”

Brent Crampton and Bondelid

Brent Crampton and Ethan Bondelid.

The craft cocktail is rooted in the classic recipes of the early 1900s. The practices were lost once the Prohibition Era hit in 1920, and people stopped caring about sculpting a superior drink with fresh juice, fresh ingredients, and high-quality spirits.

The Berry & Rye strives to provide not only a relaxed environment, but also a carefully concocted and tantalizing drink.

“In a sense, it’s like visiting a restaurant,” Bondelid says. “You wouldn’t expect to grab a menu and eat standing up. We ask that people take and enjoy a seat while being served at their table. It’s not the type of place to yell or act overly loud. It’s a comfortable, conversational bar, and this heightens everyone’s experience.”

Considering that loud behavior and drinking often go hand-in-hand, creating a more cultured craft cocktail atmosphere may seem like a lofty goal. But for Bondelid and Crampton, it’s something they’ve experienced throughout their many travels. They are bold enough to envision the potential in Omaha.

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“There is a wealth of great culinary and cocktail experiences out there,” Bondelid assures. “Omaha’s culinary culture has seen some great strides recently, and its cocktail culture is starting to grow as well. In traveling, I’ve been able to visit some of the country’s greatest cocktail venues. I’ve wanted to bring that flavor to Omaha, from the non-overcrowded, loud rooms to the incredible range that can come from balanced and creative cocktails.”

Both Bonelid and Crampton are confident in The Berry & Rye’s intriguing concept. To date, they have invested nearly $15,000 into their “ice program.” They have a massive reverse osmosis system, which provides the purest water possible for all syrups and ice machines. From commercial freezers to Japanese ice presses that create perfect spheres to order, they have taken ice very seriously.

“The thing that separates The Berry & Rye from the rest is that when you collectively consider all the aspects of our concept, such as the ice program, specialized tools, methodology, expertise, and dedicated atmosphere, we’re taking craft cocktails further than many people in Omaha have up to this point,” Bondelid explains. “Namely, we’re taking our ice program further than any other venue, and we’re the only non-restaurant craft bar that offers hosted seating, ensuring that the consistency in experience remains the same.”20130516_bs_6498_Web

Crampton is careful to point out that the seating-room-only policy isn’t a “VIP or exclusive” thing. It’s in place “solely for consistency,” he says. It takes time to craft each drink. The duo has also developed an in-house soda program; they make their own cola, tonic, and citrus syrups, but, of course, their focus is on original cocktails. Classics like gin and tonics are always an option, but they urge you to try one of 20 original recipes on their menu to truly grasp what The Berry & Rye is all about. Perhaps Lily’s Dinner Party, with Broker’s gin, wasabi, and egg whites; or Smoke Over Trinidad, with Zaya rum, sherry, and tobacco syrup made with pipe tobacco from SG Roi. (The latter is served in a corked carafe so guests can pour for themselves at their own speed.)

“When tending a bar and making drinks becomes an art form and an experience visually and flavorfully for the guests, then you know what makes it special,” Bondelid says. “When you have people that follow their passion to the farthest extent of their skills, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Berry & Rye
1105 Howard St.
402-613-1331
theberryandrye.com