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Da Dawg House

Al Parker - August 23rd, 2010
Da Dawg House offers Dining in a Dog Dish
By Al Parker
It’s a mid-summer, mid-morning in Cadillac, a time when a lot of
breakfast joints are starting to slow down a bit after the breakfast
rush.
But things are still bustling at Da Dawg House, a family-style
restaurant where the emphasis is on food, fun and fantastic service.
For example, where else ya gonna find a wait staff that dons floppy
dog ears to serve up Dawg Chow, a hefty meal of hash browns, biscuits
and gravy, two eggs, two slices of bacon or sausage ($7,25), all piled
high in a silver-colored dog dish?
And when it’s brought to the customer the staff begins a loud,
lingering howl, prompting fun-loving regulars to join in the howling
until it crescendos like a pack of beagles in heat.
“It’s just a fun, fun thing,” says a smiling Ed Gibbard, who co-owns
Da Dawg House with Gary Olszewski. I have a great experienced staff
(of 22) and they go out of their way to make our guests feel
comfortable and have fun.”
Gibbard and Olszewski opened Da Dawg House in Jan. 2008 in a
ramschackle building that formerly housed the Saddle Inn. They
estimated a 40 percent makeover, but it ended up about a 90 percent
renovation, including a totally new kitchen. The seating was more than
doubled, from 40 to 96.
Several Dawg House staffers had worked at another popular Cadillac
eatery. “We hired eight staffers who had worked at the Hilltop, which
closed in the fall of ’07,” explains Gibbard. “I’ve run five
businesses in my life and the key to success is to surround yourself
with people who know the business.”

SERIOUSLY GOOD
And while there’s plenty of laughin’ and a relaxed, cordial vibe at Da
Dawg House, the place offers up some seriously good food, especially
for breakfast (which is served all day long).
In addition to the Dawg Chow, there’s a smaller version for
youngsters and light eaters, appropriately named the Puppy Chow. The
Paul Bunyan, with three eggs, two strips of thick hickory bacon, two
sausage links or one patty, a slab of ham and hash browns or grits
($7.99) and the Smoked Pork Chop Breakfast with two chops, two eggs
and hash browns ($8.99) are two of the most popular morning choices.
But perhaps the most unique breakfast offering is The Big Apple ($7.75).
“We take a whole apple and bake it in an oven in a sort of pancake
mix,” explains Gibbard. It’s like a crepe, and then we flip it like a
pancake. Then it’s drizzled with a delicious Sicilian glaze. We get a
lot of compliments on this one, but we warn folks that it takes 25
minutes to make, so they have to be patient. But the wait is worth
it.”
For the lunch bunch, there’s a wide assortment of homemade soups,
sandwiches, salads and burgers.
But this is Da Dawg House and there’s an emphasis on, what else, hot
dogs. Using natural casing dogs, the place serves up an array of
coneys, including The Big Dog – a 100 percent Angus beef monster
that’s a half-pound foot-long, smothered in authentic Coney chili,
mustard and onions ($5.85). If The Big Dog is too intimidating, try a
regular Coney Dog, with chili, mustard and onions ($2.85) or a daily
special of two coneys with fries ($6.29).

Veteran chef Sherry Losinski oversees the kitchen and makes sure there
are a variety of dinner offerings, including a Fried Fish Dinner of
Icelandic cod ($9.50), New York Strip Steak ($11.95), Gyro Dinner
($7.95), Honey Stung Fried Chicken ($8.25) and Jumbo Shrimp Dinner
(8.99). Homemade pies, cookies and apple dumplings are available for
dessert.

SUPER PORTIONS
Visitors should be warned that Dawg House portions are not Chihuahua-sized.
“We offer super portions,” says Gibbard with a smile. “You do not
leave here hungry. If you do, you’ve got quite an appetite. One
customer compared us to Tony’s at Birch Run. He’s a legend and we’re
working hard to be a legend too.”
In addition to the food, Da Dawg House prides itself in being a very
warm, caring place for its customers.
“For many of our regulars, we’re like family,” says Gibbard. “We have
many folks who come in two or three times a day for their meals. One
of our regulars, a real gentleman, lost his wife a while back. Our
waitresses sort of adopted him, like a Dad, and really care for him
when he comes in. They went out to his house for a cleanup day and
helped him out. We’re fortunate to have a caring staff.”
Gibbard puts a real emphasis on cleanliness at Da Dawg House, cleaning
thoroughly every night and even closing the place down every Tuesday
afternoon to do a rigorous cleaning of the entire place, kitchen,
booths, tables, restrooms – even display items are removed and the
walls are cleaned. “It’s a cost to us,” he says. “We close four or
five hours early every Tuesday, so we have labor costs but no income.
But it’s important. We want a beautiful, clean place for our customers
and for our staff to work.”

Da Dawg House, at 6080 M-115 in Cadillac, is open at 7 a.m. on
weekdays and 7:30 a.m. on weekends. For more information or takeout
orders, call (231) 876-9940 or visit dadawghouserestaurant.com.

 
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