Key employees at Milton’s Bunkers Bar and Grill wore shirts Monday from Fast Eddy’s, a bar located more than 11 miles away in Janesville.
It wasn’t a case of mismatched loyalties; the same family that opened Bunkers last month has operated Fast Eddy’s for three years. Branding help was soon on the way.
“I actually talked to the shirt guy today,” Bunkers owner Scott Kirchner said. “We’re going to get some stuff done.”
But Fast Eddy’s will have a hand in Bunkers’ success. Its reputation for good food has helped build an early customer base in Milton, Kirchner said.
He believes Fast Eddy’s has better food than any other bar in the area. Kirchner prides himself on using homemade ingredients whenever possible.
Customers have taken notice at the new restaurant, said Bunkers manager Tracie Olson, Kirchner’s daughter.
“We have people in here almost every day who say, ‘I heard Fast Eddy’s food came to Milton,’” Olson said. “People are talking about us now.”
The highlight of Bunkers’ menu is its deep-fried burgers. The burgers are cooked like normal, then stuffed into homemade bread dough and smothered in toppings. The dough-wrapped burger is sealed, fried and slathered in more toppings when it’s finished.
Don’t bother trying to count calories.
Bunkers, located at 233 N. Janesville St., is not in the busiest area of town, and Fast Eddy’s is also off the beaten path in Janesville. That allows Bunkers to focus on food and build its customer base organically, Kirchner said.
Earlier this year, the building housed a short-lived barbecue restaurant known as Famous Amos. It lasted about two months before closing.
Kirchner speculated that Famous Amos didn’t do enough to integrate itself into the community. He has plans to work with the high school and area golf courses to attract new people. Then he hopes the food encourages them to return.
“Once they come here, it’s our job to bring them back,” he said. “If we do it the way we know we can, people will come back because the food is that good. The service is that good.”
Bunkers has a golf-themed name and logo, tying it to two nearby courses and the on-site driving range. Kirchner bought the range, which has been there for years, and will open it again in spring.
He plans to revamp the driving range and outdoor patio and make Bunkers a place to hang out. Judging by the restaurant’s early success, it might have already achieved destination status.
“It’s bigger than what we expected. … We were kind of expecting it to be slower at first. It picked up right away,” Olson said. “We ran out of food the first week because we weren’t expecting it to be that busy. It was a wild week.”
The family has one more venture on the horizon: opening Downtown Diner in Janesville next month. It will be a family-oriented restaurant and will move into the former Steve and Holly’s space on North Franklin Street.