Amy Rowland, the owner of the Bulldog NE – which had not been associated with the Bulldogs in Uptown, Lowertown and downtown Minneapolis for many years – recently sold the space to Kraus, who worked at the restaurant since its opening. Rowland said she and her husband made the decision to retire from the restaurant industry on a small island in Puerto Rico. However, after category 4 Hurricane Maria destroyed their newly bought home, they are retreating to Texas instead.
“It’s terribly sad,” she said of the decision to close the 11-year-old restaurant. “Bittersweet. I’m excited to start the next phase of my life, but I put my heart and soul into that restaurant and it’s sad to leave it.”
The Bulldog’s last day will be Oct. 5. Then, Kraus plans to reopen his old haunt as Stray Dog – giving a nod to the confusion that arose after the Bulldog ownerships split but kept the same name and logos.
"I’m excited to have some change, to open the doors and really stand out,” he said. “For so many years we kind of jumped around trying a little bit of everything to see where we fit in.
“I definitely want to get more consistent in what our feel and vision is.”
The new iteration, Kraus said, will have more of a diner feel with an amped-up late-night focus and all-day breakfast (they’ll still have a distinct brunch on the weekends, too). Some of the favorite items – such as the chicken and waffles and the rooster burger – will stay, as well as a couple of shared dishes from the other, non-associated Bulldog locations (the Chicago dog, the Philly cheesesteak, for example), as a “handshake gesture,” Kraus said.
He also plans to return heartedly to the specials approach – with monthly salad, hot dog, appetizer and burger specials, featuring “ingredients you’ll want to Google” such as quince marmalade, strawberry gastrique and duck bacon.
“But we’re still holding on to the approachable menu,” Kraus said.
Other changes? Kraus is minimizing the TV presence and maximizing the art, many pieces of which are coming from local artists. He will be implementing a by-foot delivery service to the surrounding condo buildings. He also hopes to sell merchandise – such as bottled versions of their sauces and T-shirts – and debut a food truck for catering events.
Stray Dog will likely open in the middle of October, Kraus said, with a grand opening celebration coming at the end of the month.
He expects it will still feel like home.
“The atmosphere, the regulars,” he said. “I’ve been there through the thick and the thin …I didn’t get burnt out.”