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Bard's Burger Reopens in Latonia With New Owners

Justin Wade loves to cook but he's always been limited to the oven and burners in the typical at-home kitchen. Until now. "I got the biggest kick the first time I got to use the industrial stuff," he said, sitting in a booth inside Bard's Burgers, the Latonia restaurant that he and his wife Jessica recently purchased.

The small diner on Decoursey Avenue is nestled in the middle of the block that is bookended by Bernhard's Bakery and Newport Games, and closed recently after what Wade described as a slow decline in quality, service, and experience. "People were complaining, sales were down, the Yelp reviews were horrid," Wade, of Florence, said. "We realized we had the opportunity to say, we can take this over. We're trying to restore the name of Bard's."

When it first opened a few years ago, the dive burger joint was known as a solid spot for lunch and also as a major challenge to competitive eaters. The Bardzilla challenge features ten one-third-pound patties with two pounds of fries. Those who were able to finish it got a T-shirt and their picture on the wall. Wade said that the challenge vanished recently but he has happily brought it back.

The immediate look of the place is not too different than what former customers may remember, though the Wades have replaced the "sticky" carpet and repainted the walls. Bard's had a grand re-opening Friday. As the business grows, Wade, whose brother owns the building and who also works as a mortgage broker, plans to add more seating and delivery. "I want to be one of those places that really never say, no," he said. "If I have it and you can dream it, I'll make it."

The redeveloped menu does most of the dreaming for customers. Its nine specialty burgers include "the kitchen sink" (swiss, pepperjack, American cheeses, bacon, jalapenos, onion strings, an egg, spicy chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato), "the bruiser" (provolone cheese, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, onion strings, mayo lettuce, tomato), and "the 5-0" (American cheese, bacon, on a doughnut, "Yes, a doughnut," the menu reads). The burgers range in price from $5.99 - $7.29.

Wade promises that everything in the restaurant will be made fresh. He uses a secret seasoning on the burgers and makes his salad dressings from scratch. The Wades, who live in Florence, see a lot of potential for the Latonia area. "It's not a bad area. I've noticed there's a lot of foot traffic, it's quiet," Wade said. "Seems like the people are really friendly, too."

Though Bard's struggled toward the end of its run under previous owners, the Wades are sure they have the recipe for success this time around. "I knew it was successful at one time. I want to get back to that," he said. 

And though the interior remains a work in progress, Wade thinks the meals will speak for themselves. "I'm more about the food than the ambience. I want to be known for the food first and the atmosphere second."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Exterior of Bard's Burgers in Latonia

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