In 2010, restaurateurs and longtime friends Quasim Riaz, Hagop Giragossian and André Vener founded the first Dog Haus in Pasadena, California. A decade later, their shared passion for creativity, quality and commitment to community has driven Dog Haus to become the award-winning concept it is today.
In just 10 years, Dog Haus has grown from serving its signature gourmet hot dogs, sausages, and burgers to the Pasadena community to a bold breakout brand with 50+ locations across the country, including restaurants, venues and virtual kitchens. Always at the forefront of new business opportunities, in 2019 Dog Haus partnered with Live Nation – the world’s leading live entertainment company – to bring the brand’s one-of-a-kind creations to its venues. Dog Haus also established itself as an early adopter of the virtual kitchen movement by partnering with Kitchen United and CloudKitchens, two innovative companies transforming the off-premise kitchen space, to open locations in their facilities nationwide.
As a leader in the virtual kitchen space, in March 2020 Dog Haus capitalized on something entirely new – virtual concepts – by launching The Absolute Brands – a restaurant group comprised of Dog Haus and multiple unique concepts. Through The Absolute Brands, Dog Haus offers three delivery-only brands – Bad Mutha Clucka, Plant B and Bad-Ass Breakfast Burritos – at its virtual kitchens and restaurants. Four more virtual concepts are planned to launch this year, with Huevos Dias launching this month.
“We still can’t believe that it’s already been a decade,” Riaz said. “We have come such a long way, from opening our first restaurant in our hometown to effectively running four brands – Dog Haus and three virtual concepts. We’ve jumped on several new opportunities to create additional revenue streams that have aided our franchisees, especially during these challenging times. Looking into the future, we have our sights set on new prospects so that our rapid growth efforts remain strong as ever.”
Expansion isn’t the only way Dog Haus has grown over the decade. Menu innovation has long been a staple of the Dog Haus brand, as evidenced by the launch of its Chef Collaboration Series in 2018 and Mixologist Collaboration in 2019. Through special partnerships with the country’s top chefs and celebrity mixologists, Dog Haus has been able to introduce unique limited-time items rolled out regularly to benefit its national charity partner, No Kid Hungry. To date, Dog Haus has raised enough funds for the organization to help feed over 1 million children in need.
“Since day one, we have been committed to constantly setting industry trends and evolving our brand to adapt to consumer needs, especially through menu innovation,” Giragossian said. “We started with a few delicious Haus creations, but as time went on, we began creating more exciting menu items that reflect the spunk of our brand, all while keeping our identity intact. In 2017, we added chicken to our menu and committed to serving hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, followed by the introduction of plant-based proteins in 2018.”
Even with so many popular initiatives already in place, the COVID-19 crisis challenged Dog Haus in ways the brand had never faced before. With its dining rooms forced to close and systemwide sales down by 50 percent, Dog Haus had to show what it’s made of.
A strategic and nimble brand, Dog Haus pushed the boundaries of how a restaurant operates. The brand pivoted quickly by launching curbside pickup and created Haus Market – an adapted grocery store model at its restaurants that sold a variety of essential foods – along with several other sales-driving initiatives. While each of its new offerings were helpful in giving its guests ways to dine safely at home, what really moved the needle was the debut of The Absolute Brands, which led to a huge spike in delivery sales. One restaurant that offered The Absolute Brands saw a sales increase of over 300% after the implementation of the virtual concepts. And, a few months after the pandemic began, Dog Haus’ stores exceeded pre-pandemic sales numbers with June up 2.3 percent and July up 10.6% versus prior year. At Biergarten locations, same store sales were up over 20 percent in July and August.
After 10 years of impressive growth, Dog Haus isn’t finished yet. Now that Riaz, Giragossian and Vener know The Absolute Brands have been popular both in virtual kitchens and brick-and-mortar restaurants, The Absolute Brands will continue to roll out at all new Dog Haus locations opening this year and beyond. Additionally, the brand is testing smaller footprint restaurants to operate for carryout- and delivery-only, and it is developing a prototype with a traditional drive-thru that has a dedicated lane for third-party and mobile order pickup.
“Quasim, Hagop and I are very proud of the progress we have made over the last decade,” Vener said. “Through innovative and visionary thinking, we have successfully made it 10 years and even thrived during the ongoing pandemic. We are very excited for what’s to come in the next decade as we continue to develop and evolve our brand to best serve our customers and communities.”