Dog-friendly restaurant chain coming to Vernon Hills

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, known for its pet-friendly patios, is opening its first Illinois location this year in Vernon Hills.

The new eatery, to be located in the new Mellody Farm retail area, is one of four new restaurants for the Huntington Beach, California-based restaurateur.

Lazy Dog, featuring seasonally inspired American food and drinks, has 26 locations in California, Nevada and Texas.

"The community response to our restaurants has been overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming to see," said Chris Simms, CEO of Lazy Dog. Simms cofounded the company in 2003 with Executive Chef Gabriel Caliendo.

Lazy Dog's menu includes soups, salads, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, ribs, steaks, seafood, side dishes and desserts, among other items.

The restaurant at 1111 N. Milwaukee Ave., expected to employ about 200 people, will feature an 8,000-square-foot interior and a "sizable dog-friendly patio with outdoor fire pits and lounge areas."

The restaurant invites diners to bring their dogs to the restaurant's patio, although the animals aren't allowed inside. Dogs get their own menu, which includes hamburger and chicken.

The $200 million Mellody Farm project is under construction and includes apartments and a 272,242-square-foot shopping center at Milwaukee Avenue and Townline Road.

Regency Centers is developing the project. The Florida-based company owns, operates and develops shopping centers across the country and specializes in those anchored by grocery stores. Signed tenants in Vernon Hills are Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, HomeGoods, REI and Cafe Zupas.

Regency acquired the 50-acre site from the Cuneo Trust and will sell a portion to Focus Acquisitions LLC to build 260 luxury apartments.

The center's name is a nod to the former Hawthorn Mellody Farm operated by the Cuneo family, which once owned vast tracts of property in the area, including the site of Hawthorn Mall and several residential areas.

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