In August 2008, Sean Kilbane got four of his friends together to preserve the unique character of the place and to build on the work that the previous owners had done to make the Happy Dog one of the most welcoming live music venues in the city. With the help of many of Cleveland’s best musicians and the good people of the Gordon Square Arts District, we booked a bunch of great gigs, showcasing local bands and pulling in some really cool bands from across the country.
With the music moving in the right direction, we figured it was time to do something fun in the kitchen, so in October 2009, we brought a new friend into the mix. Momocho chef and owner Eric Williams came on board with an idea to strip the menu down to just hot dogs, veggie dogs, tater tots and french fries, but with a dizzying array of toppings, all made in house. Kilbane suggested printing the menus to let folks pencil in their picks and create their own tasty hot dog combinations, and we were off and running.
In 2010, co-owner Sean Watterson thought he would try something different by inviting members of The Cleveland Orchestra to perform on the Happy Dogs stage, which opened the door to all sorts of collaborations with talented people doing interesting work in Cleveland, including monthly talks by scientists, writers and academics on topics ranging from the origins of the universe to the current state of world affairs. That first concert also led to monthly classical performances and even produced a double vinyl recording – Ensemble HD Live at the Happy Dog.”
We keep making small changes to keep things fresh – from hanging new pictures and recovering the old booths, to fixing up the stage and adding a new tap system – but our goal is to keep the Happy Dog what it has always been – a great neighborhood corner bar where everyone feels welcome.
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