Downtown Dubuque restaurant closes after 8 months; owner seeks new Galena location

Just eight months after opening its doors, a restaurant in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District restaurant has closed.

Bread & Vine Dubuque, 168 E. 10th St., is closed effective immediately, founder and CEO Eric Bonnetain said Tuesday.

The Dubuque restaurant specialized in contemporary French cuisine with a trendy American twist, Bonnetain said. It opened in February in the downtown district.

“I don’t think Dubuque was ready for my concept,” Bonnetain said in explaining the closure. “There wasn’t enough of a demographic to keep it going.”

The Dubuque restaurant was inspired by restaurants in Miami, where Bonnetain previously ran other establishments. It included dimmed lighting, a disco ball and graffiti-inspired art similar to a city-chic lounge or club.

While busy on the weekends, Bonnetain said the Dubuque location was missing the consistent weekday traffic needed to keep the restaurant open.

The Dubuque location was an expansion of Bread and Vine in Galena, Ill., a restaurant and bakery along Galena’s Main Street with a focus on bakery items and small plates.

The Galena location at 217 S. Main St. remains open with no plans for closure.

Bonnetain said he is looking for a second site in Galena to offer a similar experience to Bread & Vine Dubuque, adding that he anticipates a more favorable response from Galena-area clientele than the one received in the Millwork District.

“I already have a business that’s doing well here in Galena, and I know how busy the town can get (with tourists),” he said. “So I’m looking for another location there to offer my concept.”

Dubuque Main Street Director Danielle Jacobs said she was disappointed to hear of the closure on both a personal and professional level, having enjoyed several stops at the restaurant since its February opening.

She added that she wished Bonnetain success on his next venture regardless of location and said area stakeholders are focused now on what can be done moving forward to improve overall business success in and around the district.

“The Millwork is a popular spot, so I don’t think we’ll have issues filling that space, … but we also have a team who meets every week that is always coming up with ideas that will lead to more people visiting and enjoying the district,” she said. “I absolutely think an upscale restaurant can succeed there.”

Roughly 15 people were employed at the Dubuque restaurant, Bonnetain said, most of whom are now looking for new jobs. He said he already has been in communication with several staff members to help them identify other vocational opportunities and will continue to do so in the coming days.