ROGERS PARK — North Side resident Edgar Bonilla drove down Route 66 about five years ago, admiring the old school diners along the way.
“One day, I want to have something like this,” he thought.
Bonilla made that dream come true in May, opening Burger Bite at 1500 W. Devon Ave.
The menu features classic diner fare, including meat and veggie burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs. There are also sides — including fries, chicken strips, nachos and onion rings — desserts and milkshakes.
The restaurant is attached to a gas station but feels separate — the modest space has its own entrance and stands out with black, white and red decor and neon signs.
Bonilla has been in the restaurant industry nearly half his life, working as a server for the past 17 years. He spent 10 of those working at neighborhood eateries, including the nearby Cozy Corner. But he knew he didn’t want to serve for his entire life, he said.
“I want to own something,” said Bonilla, 35. “I want a better life.”
Bonilla lives down the street from his restaurant and long brought his car to the adjoining gas station to fill up, he siad.
“One time, I look inside and see [this space] was empty,” Bonilla said. He thought, “Maybe this could be a good spot because there’s a lot of traffic here.”
That was about a year ago. Bonilla contacted the building owner and got the green light to rent the space in December, working for months to get the diner open, he said.
A family business, Bonilla manages the burger joint with help from his wife, Bernice Bonilla. The couple has two kids, 8 and 14, and the older one helps out now that she’s out of school, Bonilla said.
Although there have been slow days, business is going well, Bonilla said.
“We haven’t had a bad review yet. Every week is getting better and better,” he said.
That feedback is lighting up neighborhood Facebook groups.
“Who’d ever think a burger joint inside a gas station could serve up this kind of food?” one reviewer said. “This is a small, local business that needs to be supported because these burgers are worth keeping in our neighborhood.”
“I went with my husband after seeing so many positive reviews and they did not disappoint,” another resident posted. “Everything was so delicious and perfectly cooked, and the space inside is so clean and welcoming!”
Dozens chimed in.
“I also ordered due to all the positive reviews and was still surprised by how good it was,” one neighbor commented. “I can’t wait to go back.”
Burger Bite is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sundays.
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