After a nearly four-year hiatus from running restaurants in Belleville, Gary Raymond is jumping back into business.
The Dog House is Raymond’s latest venture and will feature ballpark franks, sandwiches, salads and pies.
It’s located in the former Nanny Lou’s Kitchen at 1926 W. Main St. near Lindenwood University-Belleville and it opened Wednesday.
Raymond said he chose to focus on hot dogs because he found research that said hot dogs are the second-most favorite food for Americans behind hamburgers, and that there aren’t many restaurants in the area that feature them.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
The menu will offer Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs with baseball-themed names, and the toppings will be based on what Raymond found was popular in baseball stadiums across the country. Along with the hot dogs, the menu has bratwurst, Italian sausage and Polish sausage.
Sandwiches include a Reuben that Raymond offered in his previous restaurants.
“I slow-cook my own corned beef,” Raymond said. “I use the top round. When you eat my corned beef, you don’t even have to chew, it dissolves in your mouth.”
In the fall, he hopes to offer fried fish.
“I already have a lot of people saying to me, ‘Gary, you’ve got to bring your fish and chips back,’ ” Raymond said. “See, when I first came here, I brought a New England-style, beer battered fish and chips to Belleville. It was amazing.”
Raymond and his wife, Kathy, will run The Dog House. They will offer counter service, and customers can eat in or carry out.
“When I sold my last restaurant, I retired,” Raymond said.
He was ready for a break while battling liver disease. But now the disease is in remission and he said he feels great.
Raymond said he has nearly 15 years of experience in running restaurants in Belleville and about 35 years overall.
Before arriving in Belleville, he was a chef in resort hotels in Mackinaw City, Mich.
He started in Belleville at the former English’s Bar at 9735 W. Main St. and then called it Raymond’s Place, which later moved to 8201 W. Main St. His other restaurants included the Patriot at 20 South Belt West, which previously was the Hy-Ho Café and is now occupied by Beast Craft BBQ Co., and the American Patriot Grill at 11 N. 64th St., which previously was a Hardee’s and is now the Round Table Cafe.
“People in Belleville know who I am,” Raymond said.
Raymond said he looks forward to operating a smaller place such as The Dog House.
“I can handle this,” he said. “I don’t have to deal with five cooks, six dish washers, 15 waitresses. I don’t have to deal with all that stress. Here it’s counter service.”
Where to call
For more information about The Dog House, call 618-641-9093. An online page has not yet launched.
The hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. It will be closed on Sundays.
The Dog House will use Uber Eats for delivery.