Bethany Clough

This restaurant chain is taking over former Elephant Bar and there’s a menu for dogs

Lazy Dog Restaurant founder discusses his vision

Chris Simms, founder and CEO of Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, talks about his dog-friendly chain on Jan. 10, 2017, at the newest location, in Euless, Texas.
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Chris Simms, founder and CEO of Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, talks about his dog-friendly chain on Jan. 10, 2017, at the newest location, in Euless, Texas.

Heads up, Fresno: A new chain restaurant is taking over the former Elephant Bar location, and not only can you bring your dog, there’s a menu for dogs.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar plans to open in the spot at 7965 N. Blackstone Ave. where the Elephant Bar closed abruptly in August. It is scheduled to open this fall; construction crews have just started demolition inside the building. Expect it to look quite different.

The restaurant’s menu is influenced by the seasons, with one menu for spring and summer and another for fall and winter. Part of the menu is comfort food, like chicken pot pie and burgers, said CEO and founder Chris Simms.

But another part of the menu has bold flavors and items that other more cautious casual-dining restaurants might be afraid to put on the menu, he said. That includes the charred green beans served with a traditional Vietnamese sauce.

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“We really pushed a lot of the boundaries when it comes to the flavor profiles,” he said.

Everything is made at the restaurant and options include meatless, vegan and gluten-free food.

The restaurant will have a full bar, with seasonal craft cocktails.

And of course, there’s the dog menu, which features a grilled hamburger patty or chicken breast, both served with brown rice for $4.95. Plain brown rice is $2.50 and a bowl of water is free.

Dogs are only allowed on the patio, but there is a bit of doggy decorum expected. Lazy Dog’s rules:

1. Your dog cannot be on your lap, a chair or table.

2. Avoid the “three Bs”: begging, barking and biting.

3. Dogs cannot eat off humans’ plates or drink from their glasses.

4. Servers are not allowed to touch dogs while working.

5. Dogs must be on a leash and within reach of their owners at all times.

Despite its name, the Huntington Beach-based company wasn’t originally so dog-oriented. Simms came up with the name Lazy Dog while skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyo. He returned to the lodge after a long morning of skiing and saw a dog lazing by the fireplace. He told his friends he wished everyone could enjoy life as much as that “lazy dog” by the fire.

The extra-friendly welcome to dogs came about at its first restaurant. A woman asked if she could take her dog on the patio when members of the health department were having a lunch meeting in the restaurant. They checked with the health department folks first (they said OK), and the rest is history.

Lazy Dog now has 26 restaurants, mostly in California, but a handful in Nevada, Texas and Colorado.

In a recent story about what stores and restaurants Fresnans would like to see come to the area’s empty buildings, several people mentioned Lazy Dog.

The company will massively renovate the Elephant Bar building, enlarging the patio and adding a stone tower that is part of Lazy Dog’s trademark look.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough