There's a new restaurant in town, taking the place of a 35-year mainstay. Andy Mulholland opened the doors of the Dog Bar on July 25 in the quarters of the old White Rainbow Restaurant, between Rogers and Main Streets. The White Rainbow, which opened as a fine French restaurant, closed last December.
The new restaurant, with its entrance for now on Rogers Street, takes its name from the breakwater at the entrance to Gloucester Harbor. Along with the new name, there's a new menu and atmosphere, with the Dog Bar offering causal dining in place of the White Rainbow's formality. Gone are the stacked plates on white linen.
"It's not about the table settings or how many forks you have," Mulholland said. "It's more about the food and the service and the value. .. We just try to give people the best quality food for the best price."
Mulholland, who also owns Twin Lights Construction Co. in Rockport, spent three months renovating and updating the bar area and outdoor dining patio. He plans to renovate and reopen the main dining room in the fall. Although he kept the White Rainbow's bar, he extended it and pushed it farther from the wall, giving bartenders more room to work and patrons more surface area to enjoy their drinks. Maritime-related photographs hang on the walls, beige with black and redwood trim.
"I'm very happy with the way it's turned out," Mulholland said. "We've got a great staff and its been very well-received by the community." Mulholland said he studied his predecessor's reservation and guest logs and found most of the customers over the last 10 years came from off-island. To succeed, he said, he needs to first attract a more local customer base. "If they like what we do, it will expand from there," he said.
The Dog Bar offers a menu Mulholland describes as American traditional. Appetizers include smoked bluefish pate and jalapeno poppers - bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed jalapenos. Pan-roasted chicken, ribeye steak with shrimp risotto and vegetarian lasagna are among the entrees, along with a fish of the day. There are also salads, burgers and sandwiches, including Cubans and other pressed sandwiches.
Mulholland had help from restaurateur Matt Phillips putting together the menu, establishing accounts with distributors and setting up the kitchen. Phillips, who has opened several establishments in Boston, including the Red Fez and Union Square, also found Mulholland two chefs before moving on.
Mulholland said chefs Steve Schmitz and Joe Schulz are the "backbone" of the restaurant, "who define the feel as much as anything else." Schmitz, originally from Wisconsin, has six years of experience in the industry and is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Minneapolis.
"The opportunity to please people - the opportunity to produce whatever we want - it was fate that brought us here I believe," Schmitz said. Schmitz said dishes on the menu are his and Schulz's own creations and are prepared 100 percent from scratch, taking advantage of local resources, including produce from Farmer John Cape Ann Produce, fish from Inner Shell and bread from Virgilio's.
Schulz, also from Wisconsin, has eight years experience in the kitchen. "It's a good atmosphere - open-minded people," Schulz said of the Dog Bar. Schulz is happy with the response of customers but is always looking to make improvements. "We always try to tweak our food," he said. "If there's a way to make it better, we will."
The Dog Bar is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar remains open until 1 a.m. The restaurant will open for lunch, starting at 11 a.m., in a few weeks. Prices range from $7 to $10 for sandwiches and $14 to $20 for entrees. Beer, wine and cocktails are served.