happy dog to open east side location in iconic euclid tavern in university circle

The Happy Dog in the Gordon Square Arts District is famous for tasty hot dogs with crazy toppings, live music and adventurous cultural fare, including members of the Cleveland Orchestra recording an album live in front of the racetrack bar. Now the successful venue is heading east; in the ultimate win-win, the owners are opening their first east side location inside the now-shuttered Euclid Tavern.

"We've been approached many times, and there are a lot of things we could have done," says Sean Watterson, co-owner of the Happy Dog. "To be a part of bringing the Euclid Tavern back to life was the thing that made us go, 'OK, maybe we could do another one of these, and this is the place to do it.'"

The Happy Dog signed a lease on the space this week with University Circle Inc., which bought the building last year from the previous owners. The Euclid Tavern operated continuously as a bar from 1909 until 2001, making it the second longest-running bar site in Cleveland, according to UCI Director Chris Ronayne. New owners re-opened it in 2008 and stuck with it until 2013. UCI began renovating the space and looking for a new operator earlier this year.

"We were searching for the right tenant to live up to the iconic reputation of the Euclid Tavern as a music venue," says Ronayne. "We were in courtship with the guys from the Happy Dog for a while -- they know food, music and programming."

The Euclid Tavern has hosted national acts Chrissie Hynde, Pavement and Green Day, and also served as home base for legendary local acts like Mr. Stress. The tavern was also featured in the 1987 film Light of Day starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.

Although plans are still being shaped, Watterson says the new venue will operate as the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern. A similar menu will be available, but some hot dog toppings will only be available at the east side location, and vice versa. The owners also plan more cultural programming through partnerships with area institutions such as the Cleveland Institute of Music and Institute of Art.

The same partnership that owns the west side Happy Dog, including Watterson, Sean Kilbane and chef Eric Williams, will open the Euclid Tavern location.

Source: Sean Watterson, Chris Ronayne
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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