By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
ORONO — From breakfast to late dinner, The Family Dog now covers every meal of the day.
Co-owners Bob Cutler and Keith Manaker recently added a breakfast menu and the appropriate hours to their restaurant, well known for its specialty hot dogs, burgers and salads. The breakfast menu features a breakfast sandwich, a breakfast quesadilla and such “Signature Omelets” as the Cowboy Up, Denver, Garden and Philly.
But that’s not all that’s new at The Family Dog, located at 6 Mill St. overlooking Main Street and the Stillwater River: Cutler and Manaker also have introduced a coffee bar and an ice cream parlor.
The Family Dog is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Saturday (and until 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the school year) and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Breakfast is served from 7 to 10:15 a.m., Monday through Saturday. On Sunday the restaurant offers a 9 a.m.-2 p.m. jazz brunch featuring live music with local bassist Wells Gordon and different musicians — and a brunch menu that adds French toast, beef hash, steak and eggs and a grapefruit brûlée to the Monday through Saturday breakfast menu.
In late March, a contractor removed the restaurant’s vestibule and installed the coffee bar. “Our coffees are fresh, and they’re delicious,” Cutler said. “We purchase our coffee” from Matt’s Wood Roasted Organic Coffee in Pownal. “It’s an amazing bean.”
Owner Matt Bolinger “uses all organic beans roasted over wood grown in Maine,” Cutler said. Doing so “draws out more flavor.”
Also available at the coffee bar are lattés served with infused milk. “Remember how you liked sugary cereals when you were kid, and when the cereal was all gone, you would drink the milk because it tasted so good?” Cutler asked.
“We infuse our milk with Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” he said. “We remove the cereal and leave the milk flavored like sugared cereal. It gives a sweet-tasting latté” to which “you can add a shot of espresso or whatever you’re putting into it.”
The Family Dog serves ice cream made by Shain’s of Maine, another Maine-based company like Matt’s Coffee. Owner Jeff Shain graduated from the University of Maine in 1985; “he played football here,” Cutler said.
The Family Dog serves nine ice cream flavors, a sorbet and two frozen yogurts. “By far our most popular ice cream is the Java Crunch, coffee ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans,” Cutler commented. “It’s amazing; we sell a lot of coffee frappés with it.”
Other ice cream flavors include Reese’s Pieces Reloaded, Chocolate Swirl, the Mint Explosion, and the traditional vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
On April 11, a window contractor installed a takeout window behind the coffee bar; the window faces Mill Street. A customer can now walk to the window, order a hotdog, a burger, ice cream or a coffee, and enjoy the fare without entering the restaurant.
Cutler and Manaker will soon add bistro-style outdoor seating along the sidewalk outside their restaurant, and Cutler anticipates that people will “make good use” of the seats in warm weather.
“I think people enjoying eating outside,” Cutler said. He has noticed “how much people like getting outdoors around here” while hiking, biking or simply strolling the streets of downtown Orono.
The outdoor seating area will include a bike rack.
Cutler and Manaker worked closely with Orono officials on all aspects of The Family Dog’s recent remodeling. “The Town of Orono is amazing for small businesses,” Cutler said. “They were very good to work with every step of the way.”
With spring nudging people outdoors — the Bangor-area temperatures are reaching the 50s, sometimes, at least — Cutler anticipates that many people will take advantage of the takeout window.
Or they might dine inside The Family Dog. “The nice thing is, people can come here and find something for everybody,” Cutler said. “We have a full menu from breakfast through dinner.”