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From vault to vogue

Bonnie & Clyde owners bank on glamour for their new Fairport restaurant

A vault that once safeguarded money and riches is primed to be Fairport’s most coveted dining room. 

Just in time for the summer season, Bonnie & Clyde will open in the historic Bank of America building at 58 South Main Street. And it is truly something to behold. 

The owners, Jodi and Greg Johnson, have a thing for old banks. Before they opened the Cub Room nine years ago, they were New Yorkers who loved visiting Manhattan bars and eateries housed in former financial institutions. Jodi’s favorite, Blue Water Grill, known for its sophisticated and stylish ambiance, was her go-to for girls’ nights out. 

“You just can’t beat the feeling, and it’s so special,” Jodi says. “To have this opportunity come our way is mind-blowing.” 

The couple had been sitting on the restaurant’s name for nearly five years before finding the place. The notorious criminals connect to a mantra Jodi and Greg have about ride-or-dying together through the stresses and fun of the restaurant business. 

Finding a historic bank building to house their concept took a fortunate turn of fate. “It just all of a sudden hit us,” Jodi remembers. “My husband (Greg) said to me, ’Jodi, honey, it’s Bonnie and Clyde. They robbed banks.’ It was meant to be.” 

The 1928 bank resembles their old haunts with an airy atmosphere and elongated industrial windows. The restoration of a second-floor mezzanine uncovered soaring ceilings and art deco moldings. After being unveiled, this second floor will serve as a majestic private party room, offering diners stellar views over the bustling main floor and providing overflow space to accommodate busy nights. 

The center of the space holds the restaurant’s pièce de résistance—a one-of-a kind chef’s table housed in the building’s original bank vault, a relic of its past life. It promises to be an intimate enclave that diners can reserve nightly. 

“It’s going to be a go-to place to go out,” Jodi says. “I don’t think there’s anything like it.” 

The reimagined drive-through bank teller window, now an outdoor bar complete with barstools lining the window, stands as another showstopping feature. The surrounding patio, which used to flow into the parking lot, provides a perfect spot to soak up Fairport’s charming Main Street. “Those will be some coveted seats in the summer,” Jodi laughs. One can only imagine what it will be like during Canal Days

It’s worth noting that, with the help of an architect, they did all the design work for this ambitious renovation themselves. 

“This is my favorite part—the creation,” she says. “It’s a lot, and it is crazy, but it’s part of the passion.” 

The food contrasts nicely with the opulence of the space. Greg, who also serves as chef, envisions a diverse array of laid-back small plates and fresh pasta. Pulling from his experience working at New York’s seafood mecca Esca and his classic culinary training, he says the food reflects “a tapestry of flavors that have accumulated over the years” with nods to Spanish to French flavors. 

This style encourages guests to explore various dishes, creating a personalized dining experience based on their mood. 

“I like the idea of people coming to a beautiful space and not being held to appetizers and entrees,” he says. “I want to create something that has more flow to it and is more at ease, where you can try a bunch of different flavors in one setting and make them match that way.” This concept complements the social ambiance of the space. With lots of room to move around, it’s an ideal spot for gathering with friends, sipping on drinks, and enjoying a night out. 

The owners are proud veterans of the Rochester Cocktail Revival, so expect an extraordinary beverage experience with their new restaurant. 

Like at the Cub Room, they plan to lean into classic gin and bourbon cocktails while incorporating new signature libations. There will also be a curated list of wines and seven beers on tap. 

“There are great businesses out there, but I don’t think there’s a cocktail program like we offer,” Greg says. 

The couple is excited to finally join the close-knit Fairport community. When they relocated from New York to Rochester, Fairport became the starting point for their new adventure. Renting a home in the canalside village made them appreciate the neighborhood’s vibrancy. 

“It was always in our heads that someday, if we ever open another place, it’s in Fairport,” Jodi says. 

The luck of this is all coming together— Bonnie & Clyde, in a bank in Fairport— isn’t lost on them. 

“Everything we do is very personal, and we take a lot of pride in it,” Greg says. “It’s literally the two of us. It comes from our inspiration and our lives.”

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