New eatery Bowl 61 off to a strong start
Everything comes in a bowl at new eatery Bowl 61, and the menu is fairly simple wet or dry Asian noodles and poke, a form of Hawaiian sushi.
But customers have poured in from the moment Casablanca franchise owner Amre Elsayed opened the doors at 61 Front Street a month ago.
“I didn’t really do any advertising,” he said. “I just opened the doors. Now I’m probably seeing about 300 people a day. That’s from 10am in the morning until 10pm at night.”
He thinks it’s the freshness and healthiness of the food that’s pulling in people.
“In, a way I do think there is sometimes a lack of healthy food options in Hamilton,” Mr Elsayed said. “We don’t do any frying at Bowl 61.”
He explained that poke uses pretty much the same ingredients as Japanese sushi, but can be served on either white or brown rice.
“In sushi you don’t have that option,” he said. “And for the base we do a salad with Asian dressing. It is the same fish you get in the sushi but it is seasoned. We stir it a bit and add sesame and seaweed. That is sprinkled on top and then the wasabi sauce is added.”
Food is offered salad bar style.
“Customers like the fact that they are just in and out,” Mr Elsayed said. “We get a lot of good comments. We have a very good crew.”
He’s doing so well that already he’s having to upgrade his equipment and expand the ventilation system to cope with Bowl 61’s foot traffic.
Then Mr Elsayed started revamping the building which once housed his restaurant Casablanca, he wanted to do something different with the space.
“Just because we are a small island doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have any variety,” he said. “I want Hamilton to be versatile like any other city.”
The noodle bowl concept is popular in Asia.
“I think the bowl concept was needed,” Mr Elsayed said. “We wanted to do something really authentic and something that is exactly like in Asia.”
He thinks another advantage at Bowl 61 is that the food is affordable.
“Everything is $20 or less,” he said. “And you get a harbour-front view at no extra charge. It is something different. It is a new taste.”
The bowls are eco-friendly. They are working on making everything else biodegradable also, but so far that hasn’t been easy.
“In Bermuda we don’t have a lot of choices in terms of eco-friendly items,” he said. “But we’re working with a company in Asia that makes eco-friendly takeout supplies. I might be heading to Asia soon to deal with someone there.”
Eventually they’d like to offer more environmentally friendly forks and knives made out of bamboo, and paper cups.
In fact, the decorations in the eatery are repurposed items Mr Elsayed has found while poking around. There are brick offcuts from the Bermuda Brickyard on the walls. An old ladder from a Russian ship, shutters, even a soup ladle have also been pressed into service as decorative items.
“Instead of taking these things to the dump I recycled them on the wall,” Mr Elsayed said. “I wanted the style to be really rustic and natural.”
Customers at Bowl 61 can either sit inside the restaurant or go upstairs and eat on the balcony.
Mr Elsayed thinks the balcony seating will be popular during the Christmas season.
Casablanca Downtown is now in the Washington Lane and specialises in kebabs.
Mr Elsayed is renovating a new location for Casablanca Hometown at 39 Church Street, where Gregs Steakhouse used to be.
“We will have a new surprise there in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “That will be the one to look out for. Everything will be totally different.”
Bowl 61 is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 10pm. Mr Elsayed hopes to open the eatery seven days a week in the future.
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