By Pat Pratt
For Don Sonnenberg, the secret to running a successful restaurant is simple and can be summed up in a single word – respect.
“Both for the back of the house and the front of the house,” Sonnenberg said.
It’s a concept which served Sonnenberg well in his many years in law enforcement, both with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and as Maryville Police Chief for 13 years. Now the long-time lawman is applying the concept to his recent reclaimed ownership of Boogies II, the iconic restaurant and sports bar in Maryville.
On March 18, specials, live entertainment and door prizes are all part of Boogies II Grand Reopening event, which Sonnenberg says is sure to be a great time and everyone is invited. It’s also the month of his and his wife Lynn’s birthdays, thus, an extensive celebration is expected.
“We’re excited,” Sonnenberg said. “It’s a little late to have a grand opening, our first day back was Oct. 31, but we wanted to get our feet on the ground and get everything moving in the right direction.”
In the early 2000s, the restaurant was owned by Ron Smith, who Sonnenberg described as a “cowboy kind of guy” and was named BS Boogies, a nod to the “boot scootin” dance fads of the day. Smith, however, was getting older and wanting to retire and he asked Sonnenberg to buy in as a partner.
“Ron’s being from Wentzville really wanted a partner who was going to be around and thought who better than the police chief to make sure the business is safe,” Sonnenberg laughed.
The Sonnenbergs took complete ownership about 14 years ago, when Smith passed away. Over the years the business thrived and they had a few partners. After the arrival of a new granddaughter, the Sonnenberg’s sold the business to spend more time with a newly arrived granddaughter and other family members.
The new owners, however, closed in about one year. Sonnenberg still cared about the business and was, to put it mildly, not pleased with the direction the new owners took it.
“As things progressed, the buyers, unfortunately didn’t do well and they shut it down” Sonnenberg said. “Lynn looked at me a couple times and I had that look. So I said let’s look at it and see how much work we would need to do to get it back.”
Things seemed to fall in place from there. While Sonnenberg said he had to do substantial work to bring the place up to his expectations, he also saw a stroke of luck when four of his former cooks showed up asking if they could help.
SInce reopening, Boogies II has been thriving. During peak hours the house is almost always packed. While the restaurant is closed on Sundays, Sonnenberg said he is hoping to open that day as well in the near future.
“The problem here, like everywhere, is staffing,” Sonnenberg said. “I’m not going to work our guys 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week in the kitchen.”
Sonnenberg says the business is a restaurant that serves good food and offers a good time, with a bar. Food is cooked to order, many items are made from scratch and the wings are award-winning.
“That’s the way I wanted it. I didn’t want a bar, I had been a cop for too long,” Sonnenberg said.