By: Jason Freeze
As the saying goes, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ But this dog is special (and blue!) and does have some new tricks under his collar!
If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a few changes happening over at The Blue Dog Café. But if you haven’t noticed, no worries, because that’s the point. These changes aren’t meant to be ‘in your face,’ instead they’re meant to spice things up and give customers something a bit different.
Along with these changes, the Blue Dog has primarily seen a change in ownership this past Summer. After about a decade working on the Blue Dog, previous owners Craig and Marie have set off to work on some new adventures. In their stead, new owners Ryan McDougall, Lindsay Fay-McDougall and their young daughter Cora have taken up the leash and will be walking the Blue Dog from now on.
Interestingly enough, Ryan and Lindsay have actually been wanting to open a similar café for some time now. Somewhere unique and cozy where people could bring their families and enjoy some games. So when the opportunity came up to take over the Blue Dog, they jumped at the chance. As Ryan said, “It was a good fit. There’s lots in line with what we wanted to do anyway.” He also mentioned that working with both Craig and Marie has been extremely helpful in preparing him and his wife to take on this new venture.
Both Ryan and Lindsay are avid board gamers. They started playing games awhile ago and got really interested in them. Besides the fun factor, games are a great way to bring people together and is also a great opportunity to put your screens down and engage with each other. So of course, they had to add in their board game passion to the café.
Now, the Blue Dog offers a ‘Stay and Play’ library of board games. People can come to play a variety of games including some well-known selections as well as some interesting new ones too. There is a small fee for the games which helps to maintain the library from the occasional spill or lost pieces. Kids from 0-12 can play for free, teens 13-18 can play for $3, and adults 19+ can play for $5, all for as long as you want.
Along with the board games comes a few other changes. Starting on September 5th, the Blue Dog (Brantford location) will be extending their hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays to 11pm. This will give guests a better chance to come in and have some fun in the evenings.
And with the new longer hours, they will also be introducing a new evening menu being offered after 5pm. The new menu will feature more sharable items for friends and family to enjoy while playing games. Some of the new items will include: garlic bread, dip platters, nachos, charcuterie boards, and an exciting candied bacon mac & cheese which is said to be “quite good” by Ryan.
The Blue Dog has also put in a new beer tap counter last month and will be offering up brews from three local breweries. The first three breweries are Bell City Brewing Company, Grain & Grit Beer Co, and Mash Paddle Brewing Co. Once these options are finished, they will be rotating around to other local breweries as well. And for those looking for a different taste, the Blue Dog is also offering local, Ontario wines and four different types of cider from Howell Road Cider Co.
Ryan wanted to remind folks that “we’re not a game café or a bar. We’re just a café that has games and some beverages.” They’re still all about creating that relaxed, friendly atmosphere where you can bring your family and have some fun.
As such, many of the things that have made the Blue Dog what it is will still be sticking around. Favourites such as paint nights, featured artists, the specialty drinks and amazing food will still be the same. The Blue Dog’s wraps continue to be a big favourite with people along with their soups, particularly at the Paris location.
Over the past three months that Ryan and Lindsay have owned the business, they have certainly learned a lot. Ryan commented, “It’s been a steep learning curve. I haven’t worked in food service before, so the staff have been great to work with. They’ve helped me with the service side and I’ve helped on the beer, cider and games side.”
Ryan also was very thankful to the community at large saying, “Thanks to the community for embracing us and really, welcoming us into their home. Everyone’s been gracious and helpful.” He also went on to say, “Please talk to us and give us feedback about what you think. Feedback is how we’re going to get this right.”
As The Blue Dog Café continues to transition and make things even better, make sure to stop by and try out the new offerings as well as your old favourites. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the great food at both the Paris location (31 Mechanic Street, inside the Wincey Mills) and the Brantford location (199 Brant Avenue).
For more information, check them out on FB or head over to their website at www.thebluedogcafe.com.