Better Than TV: Bob's Burgers, Pasta, and Pizza
There’s a little row of historical buildings in downtown Bells, Tennessee. On one side of Main Street, some of those buildings hold three neighboring restaurants. There’s a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and, finally, Bob’s Burgers, Pasta and Pizza. With high ceilings and huge windows, its vibe is warm and comfortable, like your favorite neighbor’s dining room.
Eleven and a half years ago, Bob and Jennie O’Donnell opened What’s Cooking in Bells. “I did everything from seafood to steaks, pasta… Everything,” Bob shared, “One night, I woke up in the middle of the night, about two o’clock in the morning and said ‘Oh my gosh, I have to do pizza’." What’s Cooking, however, was not the name they would be known by.
“What about the name? What will we do with the name? And at the time everyone just called us Bob’s... My wife’s from this place.” Bob, who grew up 15 minutes from St. Louis, explained. He resisted just calling it Bob’s. “I’ll tell you what...I’m gonna redo it and call Bob’s Burgers, Pasta and Pizza and then that’s when all that happened.” The re-naming was about eight and a half years ago.
Right after he rebranded to Bob’s Burgers, Pasta, and Pizza, “this silly cartoon came about, Bob’s Burgers and things just blew up...I don’t watch it, but the cooks tell me about all the similarities between them and us. They think they’ve corporate espionage’d us!” Reality is so much better. At the real Bob’s, you can actually eat.
Bob and Jennie had always had their burgers. It’s really what made them Bob’s Burgers, Pasta and Pizza. There are 16 different burgers and, while a classic cheeseburger is timeless, there are other classics as well as combinations that are unique to Bob’s. The mushroom swiss and the bacon cheeseburgers are their two bestsellers.
It’s hard to pick just one favorite burger. Bob’s favorites are a cheeseburger, bacon and bleu burger, the smothered burger (smothered in onions that is), mushroom swiss burger, and Brian’s burger. Ms. Jennie’s, the ‘better half’ of this dynamic duo favorite is the chipotle burger.
It’s hard to explain what makes Bob’s so good. They’re humble about it; they don’t want to tell you how good it is. They prefer to let their food speak for them: “I don’t say I have the best burgers; the proof is in the pudding."
The buns are sent in from Texas and look like ciabatta bread, but it’s softer, yeasty, and sweet. It’s like a treat at the end of the burger; it’s not a plain hamburger bun. “We went with quality of product to begin with and then went with making sure it was consistently the same every single time,” Bob answered, “We use crinkle cut french fries, nothing big...But I insist on those fries being hot when it hits the window." When he says hot he means it, “they can’t just jump into [their meal]."
What makes Bob’s Burgers tasty culminates from the “simple basic concept of restauranteering: hot food hot, cold food cold." Bob and Jennie stick to their priorities as well. They “trust who they got”, from their employees to where they source their food. Bob is aware that what they do wouldn’t be possible without their staff.
“I think people would like me to be opened more” Bob laughed, “ I wanna be in this ‘til I die”, he’s avoiding the dreaded burnout. The O’Donnell’s number one priority is family. They were closed for baccalaureate and graduation; two very busy nights, but Bob isn’t worried about any of that: “Everything else will be taken care of if you keep your priorities right."
Bob’s Burgers, Pasta, and Pizza are open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 am to 2 pm and reopen from 4 pm to 8 pm. On Friday, they’re open from 10:30 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm. They are closed Saturday and Sunday. Drop by 92 Main St, Bells, TN, 38006 for a great burger! Their number is (731) 345-3055. For their menu, their website is www.bobsburgerspastapizzas.com. They are also on Facebook as Bob’s Burgers, Pasta and Pizza.