New Buffalo restaurant reopens year after fire - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

New Buffalo restaurant reopens year after fire

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Some Southwest Michigan diners are digging into some food they've been missing for quite some time.   It has taken almost a whole year since the Stray Dog Bar and Grill in New Buffalo  suffered from a devastating fire for them to reopen.

There were dozens of hungry fans waiting at the doors, many were dressed in Stray Dog gear to show their support.  The fire served as a severe loss for the Southwest Michigan economy, since the building is right on the lake and attracts customers from all over the country.

Two former college roommates, Nancy Stahl and Lorie Andrews, traveled from Toledo and Indianapolis just to celebrate the re-opening and reminisce together.  "We meet here like two to three times a summer," said Nancy, "and we'd been coming to the Stray Dog the whole entire time, and when we heard it burned down last year we were devastated."

Nancy and Lorie were pleased with the ambiance and food at the restaurant, that still had the same feel to it.

The Difebos traveled to New Buffalo from Chicago for their anniversary. They say the heading to Stray Dog is something of a tradition.  "We were so sad because it's really an institution for New Buffalo. You know, it's the place where everybody comes and hangs out," says Andrea Difebo.

The Difebos say they are excited to be supporting the Stray Dog as Chicagoans, but were especially excited for one thing they had missed: "Walking out to the beach and coming back and having a cocktail," says Ralph.

Co-owner Leslie Danesi says it took a lot of work to get the restaurant back in order in just under a year.  "Well one of the things we really struggled hard to do was to keep the views the same, the feeling of the restaurant, to have the tables in basically the same area to give everyone the same feeling they had in the restaurant before, but to give them a new fresh approach."

The restaurant is certainly fresh with nostalgic photos of dogs running on the beach, and glowing white lights, and there is one important relic that was recovered from the rubble.

"There is a painting of Jack, who was the original stray dog, that was over the fireplace before the fire," Leslie explains.  "And about three weeks after the fire my husband found the picture in a pile of rubble, so we had it rehabbed and it hangs over the fireplace again today."

The outdoor patio is still being fixed, but the owners hope to have that open by the 4th of July holiday.

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