An American casual restaurant that's becoming a popular presence in Vernon Hills is set to open in February in Naperville. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar plans to make Naperville its 37th hometown when it opens in a new building under construction in the Heritage Square shopping center at 436 S. State Route 59.
The restaurant will bring its made-from-scratch menu, seasonally changing dishes and dog-friendly outdoor patio, along with its popular beer club and dog club, as it aims to create a hospitable place for people to relax, Founder and CEO Chris Simms said.
"When you come into our restaurant, it's this opportunity to reconnect with friends and family," Simms said. "That human connection is so important today, as technology has really taken over a lot of our lives. People are craving that human connection that they get at Lazy Dog."
In Vernon Hills, Simms said, suburbanites also are craving the slightly unusual meals on the menu at the California-based chain. When the Naperville site opens, it will be time for the winter menu featuring dishes such as wild boar chili, indigo cornbread fries and lamb potpie.
"The scratch cooking allows us to really create layers of flavor and texture in our food," Simms said. "There's so many different flavors on the menu that they haven't really seen other places. The combination of that memorable scratch cooking with the innovative side of the menu has really resonated well."
The new restaurant along the busy Route 59 corridor will seat about 350 people and will be staffed by about 200 employees, which Lazy Dog is hiring now.
"We're looking for people that naturally have that hospitality gene," Simms said.
Diners who try out the new Lazy Dog can join its beer club or its "Pepper's Pack" dog club.
The beer club gives members a quarterly sample pack of eight canned craft beers to take home and try, Simms said.
"These memberships really create an opportunity for us to connect in a deeper way with our guests," he said. "When you meet somebody that really likes something that you really like, and all of the sudden you have this connection. That's really what's happening with us when we have these memberships."
Pepper's Pack gives discounted dog meals for $2, instead of $4.95, every time members come into the restaurant with their pooch, as well as a quarterly Bark Box gift set of dog toys and snacks themed around a national park. Dog meals at Lazy Dog come with a bowl of water and include brown rice, grilled hamburger meat with brown rice or grilled chicken with brown rice. Dogs, other than service animals, only are allowed on the outdoor patio.
Human entrees start at $9 and range to about $30, Simms said.
"It's really important for us to make sure that people at all different income levels and all different dining occasions can find a place or find a price point that they're comfortable with," he said.