Dog-friendly Lazy Dog joins Mellody Farm restaurant roster

A replica fire plug near the front door symbolizes the name, as well as the dog friendliness, of the newest restaurant in Vernon Hills.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, the fourth restaurant in an expanding roster of distinct eateries at the new Mellody Farm retail center, will host its grand opening with a welcome-to-town ribbon cutting at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The first Illinois location for the Huntington Beach, California-based chain has been open about a week. It joins Kuma's Corner, B. GOOD and City Barbeque and Catering at the $200 million Mellody Farm development that opened in October at routes 60 and 83. Additional eateries Outdoor American Eatery, City Works Eatery and Pour House, and Shake Shack are under construction.

As described by the company, Lazy Dog offers "comfort food with a twist that highlights seasonal ingredients" and is designed to feel like an escape in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Lodge-inspired interior furnishing includes fireplaces, Western-themed artwork and a chandelier crafted from Aspen logs.

Appetizers include crispy deviled eggs and roasted winter vegetables. Spaghetti squash and beetballs, a vegetarian take on the classic dish, apple-sage pork chops and BBQ bison meatloaf are among the entrees. Desserts include specialties made in-house from scratch like apple-huckleberry open face pie.

The restaurant at 1115 N. Milwaukee Ave. also touts a dog-friendly patio and offers a special menu for canines featuring grilled meats and brown rice. However, dogs are not allowed inside.

Lazy Dog is inspired by the lifestyle of the Rockies. The chain's first restaurant opened in 2003 featuring family favorites "reinterpreted with bold new flavors and served with small-town hospitality," according to promotional material. There are 30 locations in California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Texas.

"It has been a thrill to open our Lazy Dog doors in new communities and in return, be welcomed with open arms," said Chris Simms, founder and CEO of Lazy Dog.

When fully leased in the fall of 2019, Mellody Farm will have 50 merchants, including a dozen or more restaurants.

An adjoining 260-unit apartment development known as The Atworth at Mellody Farm has a separate construction value of $50 million and provides a walking-distance customer base for the retail area.

"We've seen great success in our first few months at Mellody Farm," said Chris Fuqua, CEO of B.GOOD. The Boston-based company last week opened its third suburban location in Naperville. B. GOOD is described as fast casual focusing on local ingredients and healthy options.

Mellody Farm is a reference 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 the neighboring Hawthorn Mall and several residential areas.

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