bono shutters Northwest Blvd. site; plans to relocate

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After four years at 1717 Northwest Blvd., bonoPIZZA closed Feb. 10.

Jake Wilch, who purchased the restaurant last year from longtime owner Bill Yerkes, said he was unable to work out a lease agreement with the building owner.

Wilch said he hopes by Friday, Feb. 14, to temporarily relocate to a vacant storefront in the Heritage Apartments located nearby. He said he’s looking for a permanent location sometime by mid-March in the Grandview Heights area.

Longtime customers Scot and Barbara Pearson were unhappy to see bono go.

“It’s sad,” Mrs. Pearson said.

“We knew it was leaving. We just didn’t know when.”

It was a bittersweet departure, Wilch said. The small, well-worn space was comfortable for staff and customers, who grew to know each other’s tastes and personalities.

Yet, it was simply too small, with the only entrance near the 450-pound, wood-burning pizza oven constructed by Yerkes. Using hard woods, the oven would reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees toward the back and 450 degrees on the deck, cooking individual pies in 1½ to 3 minutes.

That created the trademark char along the crust.

“It’s a little nostalgic,” said Barb Hughes, a customer who dropped in to order a couple of pies.

“I mean, look at it,” she said.

bonoPIZZA sat all of a dozen people.

A carryout located on the other side of the building closed months ago.

When it closed, customers lost a primary entrance to bono, making it extremely tight when employees were cranking 60 to 100 pizzas on busier nights, Wilch said. The oven itself could only fit up to three pies at a time.

He said he would try to replicate the oven as much as possible in the new permanent storefront.

Bono’s menu was renowned for its hand-tossed pizza made from fresh dough and premium toppings.

Belgian waffles had a less conspicuous profile at the restaurant. Each pizza is $10 or $25 for three.

Bring cash, though, as bono only accepts cash.

Wilch said that on occasion he has let people leave with a pizza on the understanding they would bring him back the money to pay for it.

“I’ve never been burned by it,” Wilch said.

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