Though they’re a testament to the enduring popularity of Leunig’s Bistro, the crowds that build in the front room as people wait for tables sometimes dismay co-owner Bob Conlon.
“When you’re packed in like sardines and it’s three deep at the bar, by the time you sit down, you may not be in the best of moods,” he observes. “It’s a great problem for us to have, but we want to make the experience better.”
So 30-year-old Leunig’s is growing — vertically. The owners have taken out a lease on a space directly above the restaurant and are busy building a bar and lounge that should be open between Christmas and New Year’s.
“It will not be Burlington’s new nightclub. We’ll close it at the same time as the restaurant,” says Conlon. “We’re really looking for a nice, comfortable place where perhaps you can sit and have a drink and conversation at the same time. We’re hoping to keep it pretty civilized.”
A new set of stairs behind the ground-floor bar will lead to the upstairs room, which will seat around 40 and have a limited bar menu — pâté, cheese plates and the like. A few new bartenders have already joined the staff in anticipation of the opening.
Conlon hopes the new space will also equip Leunig’s to take on private parties. “Right now, we turn down wedding rehearsal dinners, bridal showers and company parties. So we’ll be able to use the room for those,” he says.
And customers will no doubt appreciate being able to cozy up to the new bar while waiting for a table.