BOULEVARD MAGAZINE ONLINE — Dog Haus – Pasadena and Beyond
A burger-focused “gastropub” is probably opening its doors somewhere near you as you read this article, and restaurants running the gamut from the regular burger joint to four-star steakhouses are bent on producing the ultimate hamburger. However, three restaurant business mavericks from Pasadena—Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and André Vener—bred a champion idea: a hot dog-centric restaurant with a modern vibe and a global sensibility.
With 11 franchisees and 51 planned locations in place, the team at Dog Haus is on the verge of a major expansion in 2014, with the first locations to open in the second quarter. Recently, Dog Haus brought esteemed Chef Michael Brown on board as their Culinary Director. Brown was most recently the Executive Chef for Nike World Headquarters and Google, but also has a fine dining background. He opened Red O in 2010, and also helped open Alma restaurant in Texas, which subsequently received best of accolades by the NYT. Furthermore, with a menu expansion of sausages prepared by celebrity chef Adam Gertler of The Next Food Network Star, the old hot dog stand has learned some impressive new tricks. “We noticed there was a definite niche for hot dogs and sausages,” said André Vener. “While many burger places offer a hot dog or two as an option, we wanted our reputation to be built on the hot dog and sausage as an art.”
All members of the team have solid restaurant industry experience and credentials. However, together they channeled their respective experience into redefining classic comfort food before the gastro-pub trend took shape. Vener defines The Dog Haus not as a gastro-pub but a unique concept on to itself. “Though we have experience managing restaurants, each one of us had a dream to have a place of our own since childhood,” he continues. “We wanted to elevate the concept from fast food to a notch just above fast casual, as our locations have beer. We’ve had fun creating the different menu items, many of them inspired by places we’ve traveled to around the world, such as One Night in Bangkok, inspired by travels to Thailand (spicy Thai red “currywurst,” cucumber kimchi relish, cilantro aioli and salty peanuts) and The Freiburger which, of course, was inspired by Freiburg, Germany.”
Other exotic Dog Haus creations include Germany-inspired Das Brat, El Mariachi (a hot dog festooned with red peppers and jalapenos), Uber Kase (cheddar-stuffed pork sausage with Chicago-style giardiniere) and The Cowboy (a hot dog with smoked bacon, onion rings and BBQ sauce). Even the Über Corn Dog is an original, thanks to its a root beer-based batter.
While there are nine burgers on the menu that can compete with those proffered at hipster burger joints, the sausages and dogs are the stars of the show. In all, there are eighteen original creations, plus dog sliders, and a “Stray” (build-your-own) menu with over 40 different toppings to mix and match. However, even with the Dog Haus’ conversation-starting menu, Vener states that it is the employees and the welcoming atmosphere that not only sets its existing locations apart from other casual dining venues, but also sets the stage for locations that are poised to open.
“The Dog Haus excels because of the vibe we establish from the minute our customers walk in.”, says Vener. “There’s an energy you feel, from our music playlist to the personable employees. They are not only friendly, but truly enjoy being there and passing the happy spirit on to the customers. It is something you have to experience in person to understand, in terms of what makes it different from other places, be they part of a chain like Chipotle or a mom-and-pop.”
To wash the night down, Dog Haus features 14 local craft beer handles, plus a half dozen varieties in cans. Furthermore, they offer Happy Hour (Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 pm) as well as a Reverse Happy Hour (Monday through Thursday evenings 10:00 pm to Midnight). For all locations, visit doghaus.com