Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New at the Promenade Mall in Temecula: The Lazy Dog Cafe

Welcome to the 'hood, Lazy Dog Cafe!

Regulars at the Promenade Mall in Temecula have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this small local chain (seven locations throughout Southern California) ever since the big mall expansion a year ago.

The Daily Temecula crew got a sneak peek this week before they open to the public tomorrow.

Rachel was there. Bethany and Loren from Taste of Temecula were there. Diane was there (though we couldn't find her! She tweeted about her apple cobbler. "Who did you serve apple cobbler to?" "Everyone! It's our most popular dessert.")

Here's a picture of our dessert, a luscious brownie decadently topped with both whipped cream and ice cream.

I want to support small local businesses like California Tea & Coffee Company and Public House, but there is a stereotype about the Temecula Valley that says that only chain restaurants do well here.

So if we have chains -- since they are the ones with the bucks and wherewithal to get the prime locations -- we should at least have good chains. Luckily Temecula has moved past TGIFriday's and Applebee's and we now rate our own Yard House, PF Chang's, and Shogun.

The Lazy Dog Cafe is the brainchild of Chris Simms, son of Tom Simms, founder of mega-successful chain Mimi's.

Chris Simms, CEO & Founder of Lazy Dog Cafe

They are going for a fun, casual, comfortable atmosphere that they describe as "Frank Lloyd Wright meets Ralph Lauren." (Our waitress told us that during the last few weeks before they opened, the very pregnant wife of the founder was in the store daily, taking measurements and making finishing touches on the decor.)

This week's media preview day was also a Spirit of Philanthropy recognition lunch for local volunteers. The 14 year old honoree volunteers locally at Sterling Senior Communities. Here she is being recognized by CEO Simms:

Director of Operations Roshan Mendis (who also got his start at Mimi's) was also on hand here in Temecula:

So was chef Gabriel Caliendo:

Their menu is very eclectic and there are a lot of choices. This would be the perfect place for larger parties with different tastes to share the same table. I can absolutely visualize our family (vegetarian with little kids) eating here with my New Yorker inlaws who eat according to Atkins, my meat-and-potatoes loving Dad, and my adventurous diner mom.

Maggie's Salad:

Our table shared the hummus trio appetizer:

Any of their burgers can be made with a Gardenburger patty. The Lazy Dog Cafe bleu cheese burger:

My vegetarian kids would enjoy Gardenburgers and fries, salads, Margherita pizza, and the hummus trio, and they have an ample kids' menu too, with choices for the littlest diners and a separate bigger kids' menu with larger portions and more options.

The Lazy Dog Cafe also offers a happy hour menu. The buzz is that PF Chang's had to add a happy hour menu to compete with its neighbor, Yard House. Lazy Dog will be a new contender for the after-work drink crowd. Word is they are employing 200 local residents (many part time) so that's a good thing too.

Lazy Dog Cafe - NEW Temecula location
The Promenade in Temecula
(outside the mall directly across the street from PF Chang's
Follow them on Twitter
11 a.m. to midnight daily (offering brunch on Sundays)

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