NEW YORK-BASED INTERIOR DESIGNER Vanessa Deleon Bournias recently overcame one of the biggest challenges she’s ever faced in her career: styling the second location for the Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory with the assistance of her husband Bobby Bournias.
The power couple has been featured on various Food Network programs showcasing their skills. Bobby represented the original Brownstone Diner, located in Jersey City, on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, while Vanessa lent her interior-design expertise to Robert Irvine and helped decorate a renovated dining space on Restaurant Impossible.
“In hindsight, Restaurant Impossible was a stepping stone that prepared me for the biggest personal challenge of my entire design life,” says Vanessa, “not only a collaboration between restaurant owner and restaurant designer, but the compromises between husband and wife.”
The new diner, set to open in Edgewater, is the second Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory to take root in New Jersey. The original is owned and has been operated by the Bournias family since 1968. Because of its great success, Bobby decided to open another. Although the location and menu were quickly settled (Bobby is keeping many of his family’s pancake recipes along with adding some new options), Vanessa hit a block when it came to deciding what style and direction to choose in designing the restaurant.
“The main idea was that the restaurant would feature a great deal of our blended personalities,” says Vanessa.
After Vanessa and her team contemplated an array of designs and spent countless hours in the studio, the idea came to her. With faux grass covering the ceiling and 3D cloud images transforming both the floors and countertops into a bright blue sky, this Brownstone Diner turns its customers’ world upside down.
In keeping with the inverted décor, Deleon added a juice bar built to look like an outdoor park, installed real brick walls and included custom garden murals. She put in outdoor walkway lighting, a vintage bike, benches and lampposts to strengthen the outdoor theme.
While adding the final touches to the Brownstone, Vanessa wanted to honor the original 1968 diner in her decorations. She used custom newspaper wallpaper featuring clips of the grand opening of the original diner, an article of Bobby’s mother and father, and articles showing Bobby and Fieri, Irvine and Vanessa, and Bobby’s sisters Zoe and Maria, who are also very involved in the family business. Guests will be given the full experience of the family’s history and hints of the successes yet to come.
To learn more about the Brownstone Pancake Factory, please click here.