Since Bon Ton came onto the Midtown scene in February with its cotton candy-lavender exterior, a few things have been clear: The restaurant’s menu is inspired by New Orleans; its cocktails (Hurricanes, Sazeracs on tap), masterminded by Eric Simpkins, are built to party; and its vibe is funky. Nowhere is that unconventional attitude more apparent than on Bon Ton’s Instagram feed, which features a stream of video spoofs—and no typical overhead shots of platters heaping with professionally styled food—all with the hashtag #bontonaf.
There’s a Herzog-esque love letter to the place, a faux news segment, a gloriously synthesized post celebrating the acquisition of the restaurant’s liquor license, and a three-volume series called “Tons of Feelings” set to an instrumental version of TLC’S “No Scrubs,” which sounds like it was swiped from a Koreatown karaoke bar’s song library. And, for good measure, there’s one video that captures almost exactly the scene at undergraduate keger: Spandex, armpit hair, sparklers, and techno in a parking lot.
It’s a strange magic.
“Posting pictures of plates of food or a Bloody Mary just wasn’t going to cut it for us,” says Bon Ton owner Darren Carr, who also owns the Lawrence. “So our challenge was to create something shocking that would stand out and evoke some emotion.”
Some tell Carr they love the videos, some “think they’re wack,” he says, “but I love the fact that we made people feel something.” Unlike many other restaurants, who take to Instagram to post mouthwatering photos that act as customer bait, Bon Ton’s commitment to social media is deep, not wide. “We don’t care about the number of viewers or likes that we get. We care about that people who get it. They’re true advocates for the restaurant because they identify with what we’re trying to do.”
Jacob Anderson is responsible for a large portion of Bon Ton’s videos, including their original scores. He pulls from his “little black book of spoofs,” as he calls it, and sends them to Carr, who also works with other artists and designers for his new marketing agency Duck Soup.
“Its mission is to push boundaries and create new work, all of which can shock and inspire in some way,” says Carr. “We’ve got a bunch of work outside of the social media realm coming down the pipeline—things like installation pieces outdoors—that will really turn heads.”
Until those have been reveled to the world, revel in the wonderfully weird world of @bontonatlanta: