With breweries like Block 15, Sky High, and Flat Tail, many people didn’t think Corvallis could squeeze in another successful burger joint. The owners of Bo & Vine Burger Bar on the other hand, thought otherwise. Mike Adams, Matt Adams, and Brian Kaufman sparked an idea to create this one of a kind restaurant and dining experience in November of 2016. Shortly after, the trio opened doors to their first location in downtown Salem, Oregon on June 2nd, 2017. Not long after their one-year celebration in Salem they moved south and held the grand opening of location number two in Corvallis on November 2nd, 2018.
As a Salem native, I was overjoyed to have a piece of home away from home come to my little college town of Corvallis. The fast and casual way Bo & Vine goes about their dining experience is perfect for college students on the go or a family of five not wanting to be anywhere too long.
With the white walls and navy blue accents, the decor is a modern change of pace for the somewhat outdated downtown Corvallis corridor. The welcoming atmosphere flows throughout the restaurant and continues to the centerpiece of the building – a family style table with seating for sixteen. This allows for people to converse with their community members and people they might not come into connect with in their day to day lives.
When conversing with Brian, he divulged that the three men each wear different hats all focusing on different parts of the business. Brian has less to do with the food and instead takes on things such as: branding, marketing, design, aesthetics, user experience, social media, and everything that encompasses the brand that has become Bo & Vine.
I thought I would start with the basics and jump straight to the point with my first question asking, “how did you come up with the idea of Bo & Vine?” He almost chuckled when reliving the moment of when he so innocently was, “just joking with some guys about a burger place and said “hey, we could call it ‘bo and vine’, and basically putting an and in the middle of bovine, which means cow. When we actually decided we were going to do a burger place, we had pages and I mean pages of different names and just came back to bo and vine…thought it was unique and fun and so that is what we stuck with.”
It was all a funny coincidence of how the restaurant truly got started, as so many success stories seem to start, when Brian stumbled upon Matt’s burger food truck. Over the next six months Brian just couldn’t get this possible idea out of him mind. He first gave Matt a call and said “you should truly turn this into a brick and mortar restaurant” but didn’t have any plans to stay in contact with Matt moving forward. Next thing you know Brian is yet again calling Matt and asking if he would want to move forward with this idea and turning it into something real. Matt suggested that his dad, Mike, would also be a great asset to the team. The owner of Adam’s Rib Smokehouse in Salem, he already had a great deal of knowledge knowledge on how to run a successful restaurant. Thus starting the magic of Bo & Vine.
No restaurant would be complete without a ‘secret’ menu. Something that draws a puzzling look on the customers face when they hear the person in front of them in line order a burger they most definitely know isn’t on the commoner’s day-to-day menu. Brian spoke justly when saying, “we wanted to have a place for items that don’t necessarily fit on our main menu but also that we don’t want to feature as monthly specials. We just want to keep them (burgers) there and make it fun for people to have this menu. Maybe only a few people know about it and can also share with others.” He ended it with the perfect one liner that encompasses their goal with the restaurant as a whole, adding, “it was just meant to be something that was fun.”
Now let’s talk about the many sauces they have to offer; another thing Bo & Vine has become known for around town. If you’ve been to Bo & Vine you know all about their long lists of sauces, if you haven’t, you’re missing out. Big time! “We thought it would be really cool to have this idea of a mixologist or sauce-tender as it actually became. You could have all of these different sauces and you could pair them with your burgers and create different flavor profiles.” Kaufman goes on to say, “this has again turned into something that is pretty unique to us; people have come to know us as a place that has all of these different sauces.”
When you waltz through the doors of Bo & Vine you are immediately struck by the enticing smells of their piles of fries, grass-fed burgers, and handcrafted shakes. Unlike the common Coke and Pepsi products many restaurants opt to use, Bo & Vine elected for a Jones Soda fountain. The eight flavors are a change of pace for most yet pairs seemingly well with the theme the burger bar is aiming for.
“In a space that is hard to be unique, Jones soda was able to set us apart in this situation, especially by having it on tap.” When I first proposed the question of “why Jones over the common Coke or Pepsi?” Brian had the perfect rebuttal. You can imagine the smirk on his face when he said, “well you said it right in your sentence. It’s common.”
21 and over? The owners are here to cater to your needs. The three have added local beers on tap as well as local wines. Like the food on their menu, the drinks are no different in that they add a sense of originality to an everyday milkshake. The Stout & Cream (stout, irish cream, chocolate drizzle, whipped cream, dark chocolate shavings) as well as the Wine Shake (pinot gris, strawberry purée, vanilla, whipped cream, dark chocolate drizzle) are they perfect addition to a burger or as a “just because” when you can’t resist the temptation any longer.
During my dining experience I ran into a group of girls coming in for happy hour. As college students they love that Bo & Vine has this each night and is originally what brought them into the restaurant the first time. Lillie Hamel, a senior at Oregon State University, couldn’t stop talking about what she dubs, the “greatest addition to Corvallis!” Hamel continued to say between large bites of her Sweet Caroline chicken sandwich, “they have quality food with great prices, and it is nice to have owners that recognize it’s a college town and tries to attract to the student body. The atmosphere has a fun vibe, the service style is quick and easy, and with such a wide variety of food, it makes it easy to know everyone can be satisfied.”
Across the table sat Lillie’s roommate, Sylvette Benetti. She described the Bo & Vine setting as “a modern vibe with a homey twist.” Her main focus though, was selling the food to me. Obviously a veteran of Bo & Vine by all she was suggesting, her top choice will forever be the O’ Canada burger. Through a large grin on her round and bronzed face and exchanging belly laughs with Hamel, Benetti stated, “O’ Canada is probably my favorite burger. I wouldn’t have expected what I was in for, but the bacon jam sold me forever. The fries are different but in the best of ways possible and something you can’t find at any other place around town.” If possible to give any higher praises, she ended the conversation with, “it’s just so nice you can switch up your sauce choices without feeling needy.”
I couldn’t end this piece without giving a little plug for my go to order. While just about every person calls me boring for my order, I simply don’t believe you can beat a simple cheeseburger. The Bo & Vine burger is perfect after I make a few small alterations; yes, I am “that” customer. I can hear my dad make fun of me every time I order my burger well done, but that’s what is great about Bo & Vine, they don’t mind some changes. No onions or pickles, just cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and their homemade Bo & Vine sauce will do for me. A plane cola flavored Jones soda and their garlic fries, off the secret menu of course, makes for the perfect well rounded order in my eyes.
Brian made sure to finish off our conversation by expressing that they have something for everyone at Bo & Vine. Yes, even vegetarian options with their meatless burger or salads. “That being said we have people from my daughter, who is three, all the way up to people in their 90’s.” So if you’re looking for a place for friends to gather and explore your inner foodie, stop by Bo & Vine and it’s sure to not disappoint!
Bo & Vine is located at 110 NW 3rd St, Corvallis, OR 97330, and is open 11a.m. to 10p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. If you ever find yourself in the capital city of Salem, in need of a delicious burger, their Salem location can be found at 176 Liberty St NE, Salem, OR 97301, with the same hours of operations. Feel free to check out their menu or place an order by going to boandvine.com.