Bad Dog puts the bite on new downtown location

Concept drawing of the new Bad Dog restaurant coming to downtown Sarnia at the intersection of Christina and George streets. Image coutesy of Robert E. Dale Limited, Consulting Engineers.

Cathy Dobson

The owners of Bad Dog Bar & Grill in Corunna looked at least six years in Sarnia for the right spot to open a second location.

Jason and Margo Winter knew they found it when a former downtown restaurant property went up for sale at a busy intersection on the southwest corner of George and Christina streets.

Jason Winter

Jason Winter

And when City Hall rapidly approved a 32-seat sidewalk patio for 229 Christina St., North, they were even more convinced.

“I like the river view that you get from that corner and that it’s the first building you see when you drive downtown,” said Jason Winter.

The couple bought the building in January and have gutted it, redesigning the interior to resemble the successful bar and grill they’ve operated in Corunna for 13 years.

Sarnia Bad Dog Bar & Grill is already training staff and if all goes as planned will open in early summer.

“Downtown already offers many great restaurant options but nothing like us,” Winter said.

“Our niche will be more family-oriented. We’ll appeal to all walks of life — that’s the success of The Bad Dog  —and it’s a good place to bring kids with a menu for them, booth seating and highchairs.”

The Winters are seasoned restaurateurs. Margo studied culinary arts at Lambton College and Jason took marketing at Fanshawe.

After graduation, he took a promotions job at the former Stubborn Mule (now The Station) and ultimately became a partner in that business, as well as with the former Lazy Duck on Exmouth Street.

The couple now focuses on the Bad Dog, where they both work in the kitchen as well as the front of the house.

They’ve long wanted to open a location in Sarnia and Jason Winter talks about a possible third in the future.

His understanding is that 229 Christina St. North was built about 30 years as a Grandma Lee’s. Numerous other restaurants have operated there since, and it was most recently a sushi place.

The Winters are changing the exterior to get rid of what Jason calls “the bubble effect” of the glass windows, and installing a 24-foot sliding glass window along George Street.

The interior will have nine TVs and reflect the Bad Dog brand.

“It will be similar to our Corunna location but different,” Winter said.

Once the Sarnia restaurant is open for a while upgrades are planned in Corunna.

The Sarnia menu will be identical to the original Bad Dog Bar & Grill, in which Margo Winter has developed signature recipes and sauces to augment classic pub fare.

Buffalo chicken and beef nachos (for $15.99) are popular items on the appetizer menu along with spinach dip ($11.99) and steamed mussels ($12.49).

There are sandwiches, wraps, salads and burgers, including the Bulldog Burger served with peameal bacon, cheddar and onion rings for $13.49.   Buffalo wings are big sellers as are Bad Dog favourites like a stir-fry for $10.99.

The kids’ menu includes chicken fingers, a woof burger, corn dog and other items for $6.99 each with specialty drinks like a Beagle Float for $3.

The Sarnia Bad Dog will offer craft beers including Sarnia’s own Refined Fool selections on a rotating basis.

Hiring has started but will ramp up in late April. For details, watch www.baddogcorunna.com or check out Facebook. The new restaurant is creating 25 part-time and full-time jobs.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.