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The Barking Dog Alehouse

New owners take the Dog to the next level

A simple walk around his new neighborhood carrying his daughter brought Dan Anderson to The Barking Dog Alehouse. In a small-world moment, he found out the owners were Steve and Yvonne Harvey. He had known them both at other restaurants: Nickerson Street Saloon and Duke's Green Lake Chowder House.

Dan and his wife Kim became weekly regulars, then he was hired to consult. They jokingly talked of his taking over. A year ago they began talking more seriously. "It was really my dream job," says Dan. "I worked here on occasion to give them vacation time, and knew the main servers and regulars. I went from 'I like it,' to 'now I really want it.' I was a serial entrepreneur, and other options might have been better, but Barking Dog is unique. It's almost like an English pub, people's second place. There are customers who come in every day."

Tom Matzelle, a college friend from the UW and performance coach, talked to Dan about his plan to own/run the bar with his wife. "I agreed that I didn't really want that dynamic in the marriage. I don't want to go home and talk about work, but I did want a partner in the business. Tom said 'I can be your partner.' It was totally unexpected. In so many ways, it's worked out well. He is humble and has earned the respect of the staff, and mine as well. Despite not having formal restaurant experience, he has a pretty amazing perception of what to do on a day-to-day basis. He even manages me and makes sure I'm taking care of myself and my family. He's here if I'm gone. I'm a person who needs some balance; Tom is calm and practical. It's been an unexpected alliance. I'm 'institutionalized,' I've been working in the industry forever. Tom brings the outsider perspective and asks why we do things the way we do. I usually don't know," he laughs.

The Alehouse neighborhood is full of families and Dan fits right in. He and his wife have a four-year old daughter. "Steve and Yvonne had a great customer base and sales. We took over in July of this year, and I'm basically trying not to mess it up. After four years of being away from running a restaurant, I have to prove myself. I'm putting a more business focus on things: consolidating purchases, doing away with contracts, getting things myself. I'm working with Better Meats in the neighborhood where I get salmon, duck, and Wagyu beef. Cherry-picking everything takes more time, but I touch and feel every product that comes in and goes out. That's important."

L-R: Tom, Violet, Dan, Kim

The look has streamlined with tchotchkes taken out and wood trim added. They've rebuilt a shed in back, re-did table tents, put in a new fire safety system, and replaced some kitchen equipment. "We dropped about 20% of the menu based on what wasn't selling. Then I polled the customers to see what they missed, and we brought back three items. Since people come in frequently, we've added specials to keep things interesting. The menu changes quarterly to keep it seasonal. We do a lot in-house, like roasting our own turkey and making all sauces."

Dan got into the business through "a lack of brains." He washed dishes and bussed when he was 16. During college, 1989-1993, he worked at Duke's Green Lake and Queen Anne locations. "I actually trained John Moscrip, Duke's son. I bartended with John Thelen, now their regional manager. My dad worked with Duke when they were at Deloitte & Touche. I also worked at Belltown Billiards, and then the ShowBox with owner Jeff Steichen, and again when Jeff opened Batch 206 Distillery."

He also started doing events. One New Year's Eve, he put on an "awesome party, black tie, jazz band. Dan Sandal, the creator of Daniel's Broiler, was so impressed he talked to us about a restaurant concept he'd been thinking about. He had someone he wanted me to work with, Bart Evans. That was how BluWater Bistro began in 1997. Bart and I didn't know each other well and we were polar opposites. It worked because between the two of us we could handle everything. At one point, we had five restaurants and hundreds of employees." Disaster struck with the economic downturn. They sold two restaurants, but couldn't sell Belltown and Kirkland. The summer of 2010 was so rainy they didn't get income from the decks. In October, they had a fire at Lake Union. Insurance didn't cover the fire to the point of rebuilding. "We rebooted with Bart running Leschi and me running Green Lake. I did it for another year or so, then realized I needed something different."

Dan had been working 90 hours a week and was 39. He had married just before the fire, then in 2012, when Kim got pregnant, he took a year off and "had a wonderful time." They moved to Ballard, two blocks from the Barking Dog. He'd been consulting and wanted to get back to running his own place.

"We'd like to expand and stay a long time," says Dan. "We might eventually look at Bellingham. We have a lot of competition from breweries coming in, and want to make BD more attractive in summer. We're adding roll-up windows and trying to do a patio or parklet. We're open until midnight and are adding a late night happy hour, as well as a 3-4 bottle higher-end wine list for special occasions." They're also adding a PNO-parent night out. For $10, parents can leave their kids in the semi-private dining area with a BD babysitter doing projects and watching kids' films while parents enjoy their evening on the other side of the room.

Way-Gucci burger; Waygu ground beef with Alpine white cheddar, tomato n' bacon marmalade & garlic aioli, sweet potato fries

Barking Dog is one of those great neighborhood spots that also draws from outside the neighborhood. Creative ideas, menu specials, and rotating micro beers from around the country will keep everyone coming back.

Connie Adams/January 2017

The Barking Dog Alehouse
705 NW 70th St
Seattle, WA 98117

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