Entrepreneurs Jennifer Rigard and partner Yesenia Leon are determined to bring a space to Wilmington that celebrates the beauty of life every day, not just on special occasions.
Their new restaurant, Bonita Latin Fusion and Cocktails is under construction and set to open early 2024 at Pier 33 in downtown Wilmington.
As Latin women, Rigard from Colombia and Leon from Mexico, they are determined to empower other women and minorities by creating a beautiful atmosphere that celebrates different cultures and cuisines. In doing so, the partners hope to fill a void in the Wilmington area.
“This is a new concept we want to bring to Wilmington, this fusion of Latin American cuisine. I see a lack of variety of foods here compared to other cities, especially international cuisine. And the way that this city is growing, a lot of people moving here from big cities expect to find that variety of international foods. I think Wilmington is ready for that concept,” Rigard said.
Their Latin Fusion concept will focus on the unique flavors of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. They will offer modern Mexican dishes and Asian flavors, too. Fried plantains, tostones will be featured in many dishes, as well as ceviche and a new Latin-fusion sushi will be on the menu. Their chef, Boris Marcell, is from Colombia, studied in Spain, and has traveled all over the world creating his unique food concept.
The backdrop for the unique menu will be a vacation-inspired waterfront dining experience with “Miami vibes,” according to Rigard. While this may conjure images of a swanky adults-only resort, Rigard promises her casual, sit-down restaurant will be a family-friendly space with a “modern touch.”
“We are inspired by resorts in Latin America and Costa Rica with tropical fruit cocktails and greenery and flowers,” Rigard said. “We want to make you feel like you are on vacation.”
Drinks with new flavors and unique ingredients will be offered in their bar facing the Cape Fear River with their inside-outside patio.
With the conviction of “La Vida es Bonita,” or “Life is Beautiful,” Rigard and Leon want their guests to find beauty in all that life has to offer.
“Life is beautiful and you should enjoy it,” Rigard said. “While we want you to come celebrate special occasions with us, this will be a place to go anytime and have a good experience with good cuisine and good ambiance.”
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