Community-Minded Restauranteurs Face a Grassy Foe

When Matt Elgiar and Jake Guevara offered the City of Celina their help, they probably did not anticipate a grueling, exhausting, draining, sweat-inducing, five-hour battle with weeds. But that’s exactly what happened. Both are managers at the under-construction Bongo Beaux’s Bourre Palace & Cajun Kitchen which is slated for a mid-September opening at 218 W. Walnut Street, steps from the downtown square.

Bongo Beaux is a concept restaurant in the Radical Hospitality Group, which has staked a claim in the Denton area with LSA Burger Co., Barley & Board, and the upcoming Sunago Bell and H2Oak, as well as Earl’s 377 Pizza and Bumbershoot Barbecue in Argyle. Several of the company’s offerings are slated for the Grandscape in the Colony near the Nebraska Furniture Mart.

While still building Bongo Beaux, and hiring personnel to staff it, the company made its usual and customary offer to the municipality – “let us know how we can help.” The Group has a long history of aiding the communities in which they operate. In fact, the company’s mission says, in part, that its facilities “provide a place for celebration and fellowship as well as sanctuary for the weary to reflect and rejuvenate.” That includes closing some restaurants to the public on days like Thanksgiving and serving free meals to people and families in need. And, that legacy of service is the place from which Elgiar and Guevara offered their help to Celina.

The City’s Community Relations Manager Jessica Matehuala quickly remembered their offer when Celina’s Code Enforcement Department cited an elderly woman for high weeds at her uninhabited property. Rather than allow the citation process to proceed to adjudication, Matehuala called Elgiar and asked if he and his co-manager would be able to help the owner, a 94-year-old Celina resident with few options.

The two agreed, sight unseen, to mow the yard and help the elderly owner avoid a fine. Little did they know what awaited them. Not only was the temperature topping the 90s, the overgrown grass and weeds were nearly as tall as the two men. The lawnmower and edger they had arrived with would be no match for the imposing foliage.

Elgiar recalls the sense of foreboding. “We knew right away that we were going to need a larger mower,” paraphrasing the famous line from “Jaws.” The two reached into the bygone days of trailblazing by grabbing a pair of machetes and swinging the sharp blades with enough force to bring the vegetation down to size.

At the end, it took five hours, 30 water bottles, several breaks in their air-conditioned truck with the fan at full blast, when they finally declared victory. “We had brambles and stickers in our beards, in our noses, and a few bites from unknown bugs, but we finished it.”

Bongo Beaux will be a 6,000-square-foot restaurant with a large, covered patio. The theme is based on the concept of Bongo Beaux, a character from rural Louisiana who just wants to play bongos in a jazz band. While Celina was anxious for the Group to establish an LSA Burger at the location, the company opted for the Cajun theme, to complement the City’s annual crawfish boil. Elgiar’s appointment as manager and recipe developer seems ideally suited for the job. He’s a native of New Orleans.

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