By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A new restaurateur has come to town, bringing with him a quarter century of experience as a chef. Don Bom Buwala recently opened Don’s Bar & Bistro in the former Sheldon’s Fine Dining location on 100 Ave. and said he is looking forward to serving his fare to Morinville diners, particularly his specialties – French cuisine, steak and seafood.
Bom Buwala, originally from Sri Lanka, has spent the past 25 years as a chef and restaurant manager, training in Switzerland, then working in Germany, England and Bermuda, plying his trade in the latter location for 18 years. While in Bermuda, Bom Buwala opened eight restaurants as a corporate chef and manager, but since moving to Canada he’s wanted to open his own establishment.
“I was looking for the last three years for a little restaurant for me to open up by myself, but I didn’t find anything,” Bom Buwala said, noting that he recently saw an advertisement for an opportunity in Morinville, a town he was not at the time familiar with but is happy to have found.
Bom Buwala said he fell in love with the restaurant as soon as he saw it, the establishment’s nautical décor reminding him of Bermuda where he dove for his own lobster. But there was more to his decision than the décor. The chef said Sheldon already had part of his name, jokingly noting that all he had to do was remove the ‘shel’ portion – the don was already there.
But Bom Buwala has more changes in mind than just the name. The restaurateur is currently working on his menu to bring forth from his kitchen a selection of foods that will appeal to and please Morinville and area diners’ taste buds and cultural heritage.
The chef said he was taught by an aboriginal colleague how to make authentic bannock, something he plans to add to his menu along with other Canadian and international dishes.
“I want to add a nice pizza, gourmet pizza, and also nice pasta dishes,” Bom Buwala said, adding that whatever is on the menu, he plans to provide his diners with unique, reasonably-priced food made of fresh ingredients. The chef even makes his own mayonnaise.
But along with changing the menu, the Bom Buwala has changed the hours of operation, drastically.
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“When I come, it didn’t make sense,” Bom Buwala said of the restaurant’s original hours. “Sundays closed, Saturday morning closed and Monday evening closed. It’s like customers are confused.”
Don’s Bar & Bistro is open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until 10 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bom Buwala said he hopes that Morinville residents will be pleased with the changes he is making to serve them and believes that his business will continue to grow by word of mouth.
“They come back two and three times,” Bom Buwala said. “And when they come, I’ll serve the food and I’ll make them happy. That’s the best way to go up, I think.”