After a series of Craigslist posts fanned the flames of a rumor that a James Beard-recognized chef would be expanding his or her restaurant to Concord, Jason Bond of Bondir confirmed with Eater that he's the one. (Bond was a 2012 James Beard Foundation semifinalist.) Bond is currently negotiating a lease at 24 Walden Street in Concord Center; it's an old firehouse that was previously home to Walden Grille, a 25-year-old restaurant that closed almost a year ago.
Bond opened Bondir (a French verb meaning "to leap" or "to bounce" as well as a play on his name) in Cambridge just over two years ago. The nine-table location has worked well: it's right in his neighborhood between Harvard and MIT, and it was financially attainable property from the standpoint of a small, independent restaurant. Bond saw it as the beginning of something bigger, though, sort of a "leap into the game" or "throwing a hat in the ring." It was the start of a five-year-plan to test the waters and establish a reputation, both for pleasing customers and for building a strong financial history that would help take a bigger step next. The timeline's never quite what one expects, though, and the right location came along earlier than planned.
Bond loves the history behind Concord and the prettiness of the town, and it seems like the type of place that will take well to Bondir's cuisine, a daily-changing array of modern American food made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The new location will share the Bondir name and philosophy, although Bond predicts that the food may be a little different - perhaps more complicated - at the new location, because the bigger kitchen will allow for much greater flexibility. Bond himself will bounce between the locations, likely spending mornings in Cambridge before heading out to Concord, at least in the beginning, and general manager Erin Reilly will probably move back and forth between the two as well. Sous chef Rachel Miller, who joined the team in September, will ultimately move over to the Concord location, and a yet-to-be-hired new sous chef will come onboard in Cambridge.
The Concord location will be much larger than Cambridge, featuring 90-100 seats (about 60 in the dining room and 30 or so at a bar), plus a 20-seat outdoor patio in the back. The space is currently gutted and the design hasn't been planned, but it will have the same simple, cozy aesthetic as the Cambridge location. There's lots of exposed brick, but Bond's not sure how much will be utilized in the final design.
Bond has "no real plans to take over the world" and doesn't foresee adding more locations beyond Concord. The driving factor in his decision to expand is that he wants to take care of the Bondir family in a way that he can't with just the smaller location. When he worked at Formaggio Kitchen in the late '90s, he was inspired by their model: it was a place where adults could really make a career, complete with health insurance, benefits, and such. He wants Bondir to be like that, but nine tables aren't really sufficient to reach a financial level that would make that possible.
The new Bondir is still in the early stages, so the timeline may change, but Bond expects the lease to be finalized soon enough that he can present plans to the town of Concord in March, start building in May, and open on August 1.