For 13 years, Zona 78 welcomed guests at their River Road and Stone Avenue location with great food and a wildly popular happy hour. So, it came as a surprise when the restaurant’s doors abruptly closed in January to make way for a new concept.
The good news is, the venue will not be changing hands, leaving Zona 78’s mission to provide quality cuisine and commitment to community in place. In Mid-February, guests will be invited to discover Stray Dogs, a “fun dining place with well-priced food & drinks,” according to owner Richard Fink.
Stray Dogs will offer a family friendly dining room, a full bar, and a menu focused on locally and responsibly sourced ingredients from producers such as Sleeping Frog Farms.
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A top priority for the new concept is affordability. Prices are intended to be low enough to replace the need for a Zona 78-style happy hour. In other words, burgers will be $7 all the time and you won’t be afraid to look at your tab after a few beers or well-drinks. Stray Dogs expects to carry about 13 beer varieties overall, and will carry top-shelf liquor to cater to those customers that prefer it. A “high school happy hour” from 2 to 4pm will offer specials such as half-priced burgers and brats.
Expect hormone and GMO-free burgers, house-made bratwurst, hand-cut french fries, salads and plenty of gluten-free options. Comfort classics like macaroni and cheese served in a skillet, fresh from the brick oven, and crispy sweet potato fries are sure to become favorites on game days.
“Stray Dogs will build on relationships established over the past 13 years with local farmers and ranchers,” said Fink. “While Stray Dogs will feature American fare, we will also continue to serve stone-fired pizzas, salmon, salads. Locally grown produce from farms we work with will be used to make pickles, sauerkraut, and salsa in-house.”
While a fresh coat of paint and sanded chairs seem like minimal changes, the end result will ideally create a fresh, new space. More high-definition TVs are being added to the updated, larger bar area for a range of sports. Beyond the usual PAC-12 football and basketball, national and international sports fans will also discover a new destination for soccer, baseball, hockey games and more.
“While brainstorming names, we kept returning to Stray Dogs. It resonated,” said Fink. “Dogs are part of our family and we wanted to create a place where dogs are welcome. We were also drawn to the meaning ‘stray from the main road… go beyond limits.’ We hope to bring this sense of adventure to our menu and service.”
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About 60% of the staff have been retained from Zona 78, and much of the staff is currently helping to revamp the space. Stay tuned for hiring announcements from Stray Dogs management.
“I find that everyone I meet is a bit of a Stray Dog,” said Fink. “People are more unique today than they were 40 years ago. We’re excited and hoping for 13 more years here.”