"The one thing I don't have to worry about is customers walking in the door," says Jon Bonnell, chef and owner of the much-anticipated Waters: Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine, which opened on Easter in Fort Worth's West 7th development. "The hard part is we've got to perform and earn a reputation that we've already got. No pressure, right?"The former math and science teacher, father of two and award-winning chef says opening his second restaurant, 12 years after launching Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine and serving some of Fort Worth's very first farm-to-table fare, is much different this time around."The first time I had all day, every day, to think about it, make the decisions and to do every single step. This one's a little trickier. I'm running another restaurant at the same time," Bonnell says, sharing a glimpse of his very hands-on mindset, one that requires him to be present in every aspect of his namesake restaurant. It's an attribute that has allowed Bonnell to build a loyal fan base of diners who appreciate his personal attention to detail and his accessibility."One of the advantages is that I've been able to utilize the kitchen at Bonnell's to test some recipes and play around," Bonnell says. "There's nothing that substitutes for experience when it comes to the restaurant business. So after 12 years, I think we've learned a few things."Bonnell says he's excited about the deafening buzz that surrounded the opening of Waters and is ready to showcase his love for fishing and the beautiful simplicity found in great seafood.In Waters' custom-made oyster case located behind the bar, eight to 10 varieties of fresh, raw oysters are available daily, each sold by the shell. Other cold options include a daily crab selection, be it blue crab, stone crab or Alaskan Dungeness, and a fresh, never frozen, shrimp selection."We'll chase the seasons as they go," Bonnell says. "Whatever is looking really great, fresh, wild, seasonal and sustainable, we will have it."Landlubbers will find bone-in rib-eye steaks, pork chops and chicken-fried rabbit loin with Bonnell's signature jalapeño cream gravy. Fish options will change daily, dependent upon "whatever looks really good that was caught the day before," Bonnell says."There are so many different things that swim every day, and each has a different story," he says. "That's half the fun of seafood -- there's never a dull moment."For diners desiring a peek inside Waters' busy kitchen, a private room with seating for 10 offers a window view. Patrons might see Bonnell more early on in the restaurant's life before he begins to move back and forth between locations."My plan is to end up splitting time between the two, and that's about as much of me as there is," he says. "Don't expect to see three more openings in the next three years."
Waters: Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine
2901 Crockett St.