Nonla Burger: A Retro Sit-Down Diner with a Modern Twist

Abbie Lindblade

It’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re craving a classic American meal: a cheeseburger and fries. You decide to order from that new restaurant down the street, Nonla Burger. The outside of Nonla Burger looks like an average business with a white brick exterior and a small sign hanging in front of the entrance, but after walking inside all of your previous opinions will change.
This small diner on the corner of S. Burdick and Alcott seats only 20 people and has gained popularity among Kalamazoo citizens in the past few months. Nonla Burger opened on October 17th, 2017, and it’s owners, Natasha and Kyle Monk, moved to Kalamazoo from California to open a business that caters to all types of customers.
A simple menu hangs above the counter, and while the selection is small, the prices are cheap and the food is surprisingly delicious. They offer cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, homemade hand-cut fries and several beverage options including their shake flavors of the day, such as strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.
The burgers are their most famous menu item, with cheese or without. The patty is juicy and flavorful and the vegetables are crunchy and fresh, offering a multitude of tastes that you can enjoy. You can customize your burger with toppings like onions, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, and jalapeños, and each burger comes with Nonla’s ‘secret sauce’ which adds an explosion of flavor between the bun and the patty. The burger size is relatively normal, about the size of a McDonald’s hamburger but much better quality. The hand-cut fries are also very popular as they’re housemade and have the perfect amount of salt to make them addicting and you wanting to come back for more.
The inner decor is retro with small booths along the walls and boards along the back walls featuring recipes from the 1950’s. While in the corners of the window sills, you’ll find several different potted plants that add to the West-Coast theme.
When asked about the goal of the decor, Natasha Monk said, “We wanted to make it like a 50’s diner, retro but with a modern twist.”
The owners co-own Nonla Burger with their good friends, Johnny and Kelly Nguyen who own Nonla Vietnamese in Mattawan. Nonla is a Vietnamese word that means rice hat, which are cone shaped hats that many Vietnamese people are seen wearing. Natasha and Kyle came to Kalamazoo from California to visit the Nguyens about a year ago, and when they saw the white brick building they immediately had an idea.
“We saw this property and thought it was perfect for a burger place. We moved here from California to open it,” said Natasha.
From Nonla Burgers simple and retro decor, to the delectable and cheap food they serve, it’s easy to see why this diner has become so popular among the residents of Kalamazoo.
The diner is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 A.M. -8:30 P.M, so pay a visit to Nonla Burger and try out the experience for yourself!