Sign Production - The Neon Company
Furniture Design - Wrong Studio
Bon Ton is a cajun-Vietnamese restaurant in Atlanta, GA that is ALL about letting the good times roll. For this project, I worked as creative director, art director, and designer over a small team of furniture designers, sign-painters, sub-contractors, and developers.
In order to create the identity and world of Bon Ton, I developed a fictional story about the history of uses of the building the restaurant occupies. Fictionally housed in New Orleans’ 9th ward, the building was orginally a storehouse for seafood and fresh catches. It stayed that way from the late 1800’s until the 20’s when the storehouse shut down and a brothel speakeasy was opened up next door. From the 20-90’s, the brothel evolved to become a well-known den of pleasure: cocaine, flowing drinks, music and conviviality, and “service.” This lasted well into the disco era and through the 80’s until is was finally shut down. Then, in the 90’s when a fictional character named Mister Nguyễn immigrated from Vietnam and was operating a small to-go Vietnamese food counter in the small adjacent building. When the brothel shut down, Mister Nguyễn’s food counter was doing so well that he decided to expand his business and buy the old brothel space next door.
When he moved in, he decided to keep all of the evolved decor that had accumulated in the space from 1920-1988. He added is personal twist to everything and changed the name of his business from Nguyễn’s To-Go to Bon Ton. He then proudly offered “fancy service” to all of his patron’s and grew to become a neighborhood favorite.
The resulting creative direction intentionally embraces this story arc. The interior design reflects the various decades of occupation and uses and adds the new owner’s personal flair. The menu is intentionally meant to seem as if Mister Nguyễn designed it himself (as opposed to a professional designer) as well as the website. Every visual choice was made to create a sense that the building and the business had lived a wild life and that the spirits of the past show up to party with the current guests.