Dam Dogs moves ‘back home to the trail’
Two popular Rockford eateries, now under the same ownership, will soon be neighbors—again. Dam Dogs, after a couple of years around the corner on Bridge Street, is moving back to a trail side location at 25 Squires Street, right next to Custard by the Dam.
Both businesses are owned by Frank and Jennifer Kramarz. Kramarz and her mother Mary Ann Hurst opened Custard by the Dam in the spring of 2002. In summer of the same year, Jane Vruggink opened Dam Dogs. The Kramarz family liked Dam Dogs and always thought the two businesses would compliment each other.
“I kept joking with Jane over the last two or three years to let me know if she ever wanted to sell, and finally last fall she said she was ready,” said Frank.
The Kramarzes purchased Dam Dogs in December. When a location opened up right next to Custard, they decided to bring the two businesses literally under one roof, although each in their own location.
“Nothing about Dam Dogs’ menu offering will change,” Frank said. He believes the original owner was successful in establishing a unique quality product with a strong following, and there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken. “The only noticeable change will be extending our hours, which will include opening Sundays.”
Opening in the location that was most recently a dog and cat product store, Kitty and Doggie Two, and before that a wedding shop, Belle of the Ball, the over 800-square-foot space is newly renovated and features generous Garden Club Park seating outdoors as well as indoor dining. Dam Dogs sells a robust, loaded, all-beef dog, known as “the dog you need a fork to eat.” The most popular is, of course, “The Rockford.” Also on the menu are chips and pop, “walking tacos” and nachos.
“We have something unique here with both businesses,” said Jennifer.
The Kramarzes credit unique, quality products and great customer service with both businesses’ success. “My employees are great,” said Jennifer. “They are the reason we are where we are today.” She said between the two shops they will employ about 25 people this summer.
Dam Dogs is scheduled to be open in the new location May 1, although the date is contingent on having the space ready. Dam Dogs is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and summer hours begin with the move and include Sundays, with the same hours. Custard by the Dam is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. now, but in summer months will be open until 10 p.m.
Both Frank and Jennifer are excited about the future of their two businesses and believe the new location for Dam Dogs will be a hit. “Location, location, location,” said Frank. “There isn’t a better place for this than right on the trail.”