Bryant-Lake Bowl changes hands without changing much else

Erica Gilbert, the new owner of Bryant-Lake Bowl.
Erica Gilbert, the new owner of Bryant-Lake Bowl.

Graphic designer Erica Gilbert started working at Bryant-Lake Bowl 12 years ago because she heard the staff needed help. She continued at Bryant-Lake Bowl as she worked weekend art fairs, designed onesies and created graphics for places like Barbette. Now she plans to stay indefinitely as the new owner.

“I’ve done every job here I can do,” she said. “The next step was to ask Kim [Bartmann] if I could buy it.”

Hearing rumors that outside parties wanted to acquire the restaurant, Gilbert decided to ask Bartmann if she could buy it herself.

“I’m sure other people would be interested, but I wanted it to be Erica,” Bartmann said, dismissing the rumors.

The business changes hands on its 25th anniversary. Everyone seems to have a memory attached to the place, Gilbert said.

“People should know the story,” she said.

Reopened on Halloween in 1993, Bryant-Lake Bowl was an early adopter of composting, nonsmoking rules and grass-fed beef. The restaurant was the first to pour beers by Fulton, Bell’s and Lagunitas. Performers on the stage have included Andrew Bird, Bob Mould, Michael Stipe, Happy Apple, Ben Harper and several Grammy award winners.

The menu will continue evolving with the seasons, but no drastic changes are anticipated. Gilbert recommends everything on the breakfast menu: the breakfast burrito with jalapeño fries, or the egg sandwich, or “to die for” thick brioche French toast with maple syrup.

“Everything is staying the same,” she said. “…I just want to make sure it’s here in the future.”

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