WALLINGFORD — Despite a tough year due to the pandemic, a Route 5 salad and sandwich shop is expanding.
“Our goal is to make BMuse a place to be,” the BMuse Cafe posted on its Facebook page. “Whether you’re stopping by to spend your lunch break with us, picking up a to-go or online order or grabbing a quick bite from our grab and go...”
Co-owner Bob Bourassa said after getting through a difficult year he wanted to try something new. The cafe, located at 665 N. Colony Road, will expand into the empty storefront, adding more dining tables, another customer bathroom and more storage space. Work began earlier this month.
“It’s a gamble to be expanding,” Bourassa said. “...I feel that this will be good for us.”
Bourassa doesn’t expect renovations to be fully complete until mid to late September.
“We kind of outgrew the space that we have and we needed more storage,” he said. “We’re going to add about 25 seats, sit-down style.”
BMuse is known for salads, sandwiches and wraps, Rose Roman, who works in Wallingford, said she stops in for lunch often during the week, usually for a salad.
“I love that their salads are always fresh and the people that work here are so nice,” Roman said.
Roman said she is looking forward to the expansion and having the option to dine in with friends and co-workers.
Navigating through the pandemic
When the cafe closed from March to May 2020, Bourassa gave the employees access to the food at the restaurant, he said.
“The people left on the payroll, I continued to pay,” Bourassa said.
Like many restaurant owners, Bourassa has struggled to hire new employees. He estimated he has about half the employees that he had before the pandemic.
Due to a staff shortage, he has had to turn down catering jobs for the first time.
“We’re a good family-oriented organization, kind, compassionate, but we just can’t find people to work,” Bourassa said.
Despite the problems, Bourassa hopes the expansion will be a good move.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I could be dead wrong but I feel like people are ready.”