Reel Foods changes ownership; Saint Lawrence launches brunch service

Chefs Marcus Bonilla of the Boise Centre and Mark Ballen of Lucky Fins Seafood Grill have teamed up to monger a little fish on Capitol Boulevard.

Bonilla and Ballen have left their previous gigs to purchase and operate Reel Foods Fish Market and Oyster Bar. They officially took over the restaurant April 28.

“We’ve been wanting to go into business for ourselves for a long time,” Ballen says. The two met a few years ago through Chefs de Cuisine, the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

Reel Foods opened in the early 1980s to bring fresh seafood to Boise. Ocean Beauty Seafood, a company that imports seafood and fish, bought it in 2012 and moved it from its hidden spot under the Connector on Americana Boulevard to a higher-profile spot at 611 Capitol Blvd. in Boise.

Ocean Beauty’s development manager, former Cottonwood Grille owner and chef Peter Blatz, oversaw Reel Foods’ move and operation, bringing on a grab-and-go section, lunch service and an oyster bar. Now he is overseeing its sale.

“Owning a retail operation just wasn’t a good fit for our company,” Blatz says. “I’m sorry to let it go, but I’m excited that these two guys are taking it over.”

Through working at seafood and sushi restaurant Lucky Fins, Ballen has a strong connection to Reel Foods, he says.

“I’ve been buying fish there since I moved here in the 1990s,” he says. “I love that place.”

Ballen and Bonilla plan to keep Reel Foods moving in the same direction for now, but plan to add a more local retail section, more exotic fish selections, more grab-and-go and gluten-free options, and catering.


Saint Lawrence Gridiron, 705 W. Bannock St., Boise, will start its brunch program on Mother’s Day weekend. You’ll find a Southern cuisine-inspired take on traditional brunch dishes such as French toast with pan-fried plantain, ham and eggs with red eye gravy, and shrimp and grits. Specialty cocktails include a French 75, mimosa and bloody Mary. It also will serve its regular lunch menu of burgers, pulled pork, salads and the restaurant’s signature brisket. Brunch will be from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Phone: 433-5598. Saint


Juniper Kitchen and Cocktails, 211 N. 8th St., Boise, will get a jump on the whole Mother’s Day thing with a winemaker’s brunch at 11 a.m. on May 9. (Mother’s Day is Sunday May 10.) It’s a four-course, fixed-price menu paired with Walla Walla’s Balboa Winery for $55. Reservations: 342-1142 or email Online: