The Hippo


Jun 6, 2020








Bar stools at the open-air bar at Bonfire on Elm Street. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

Bonfire Restaurant & Country Bar and Torched Pizza

Where: 950 and 946 Elm St., Manchester
Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., beginning Sept. 15 (soft opening is Friday, Sept. 1, at 4 p.m.)
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Country craze
Bonfire, Torched set to open on Elm Street

By Matt Ingersoll

 Old John Deere tractor seats and tire swings have been reimagined as dining chairs at the new Bonfire Restaurant & Country Bar on Elm Street in Manchester, where dreams like Bacon Happier Hour and free burgers for a year will come true.

The first 100 people to visit Bonfire during its soft opening on Friday, Sept. 1, at 4 p.m. will win free burgers for a year. And for everyone else, the restaurant promises plenty of reasons to stop by after it officially opens its doors on Friday, Sept. 15 — including the daily Bacon Happier Hour, when you can get free buckets of bacon between 4 and 7 p.m. with the purchase of one of three specials: a beef or chicken taco and a shot of Bonfire whiskey for $1, a serving of french fries and a Beer of the Month beer for $2, or a burger and a glass of your choice of wine for $3.
A sister restaurant next door called Torched Pizza will open its doors at the same time, offering quick service similar to Subway or Chipotle Mexican Grill, but with pizzas prepared with your choice of toppings and oven-cooked in 90 seconds.
For Bonfire and Torched founder and owner Tanner Herget, it’s all about bringing a new fun and entertaining atmosphere to the downtown area, but a welcoming one to patrons of all demographics.
“We welcome everybody, from the nightlife crowd to people who have to get up early for work the next day,” Herget, who also owns the Bonfire Country Bar and The Drink Exchange, both in Portland, Maine, said. “It’s all about having some fun and going with the flow.”
Herget said a number of new menu items are being added to Bonfire’s Manchester location not available in Portland, like homemade loaded tater tots, slider burgers, noodle salads and flatbreads.
“We’re really appetizer-heavy, just because it’s shareable food,” he said. “Our burgers are huge, too.”
The loaded tater tots are topped with cheese, bacon, sour cream and scallions, with an option to add jalapenos. Also on the menu are steak and cheese or pulled chicken bacon ranch sliders, homemade nachos with pulled steak, chicken or vegetables, chicken fingers and hand-cut fries.
The bar will carry 24 options on tap, including two housemade brews.
Much of the indoor seating in Bonfire has been converted from John Deere tractor seats, tire swings suspended from the ceiling, and even a few chairlifts donated directly from Pats Peak, according to Herget. 
Near the back of the restaurant, Herget said, there will be a stage for live country music acts every Friday and Saturday night. In fact, platinum-selling country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard, known for his hits “Sunshine & Whiskey” and “Helluva Life,” is booked to play at Bonfire during its Sept. 15 grand opening.
Downstairs, a public game room will have a variety of games like giant Connect Four, giant Jenga, two indoor cornhole games, chess checkers, a classic Nintendo system and more.
Herget said you do not have to be a fan of or even know anything about country music in order to have a good time.
“Here at Bonfire, it’s more about the atmosphere and the people and the enjoyment [than the music],” he said. “People have this stigma about country and what it is to them, [but] it’s enough of an accomplishment for me to see somebody who’s not a country fan go, ‘That was actually really fun, I wouldn’t mind going back there.’”
Over at Torched, flatbread pizza options are completely new, Herget said.
“This was where Bada Bing Pizza actually used to be,” he said. “You’ll start by ordering your choice of white, wheat or gluten-free dough … and then you choose your sauce, your cheese and your toppings before it gets popped into the 90-second-cook-time ovens. So it’s essentially the same technology as Subway, but instead of toasting a sandwich in 11 seconds, you’re cooking a pizza in 90.” 

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