All paws on deck |

All paws on deck

Cassie Pence
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyChase, a Rottweiler, bites into the Bully Ranch Dog Days Burger, a healthy mixture of beef, corn, oatmeal and mixed vegetables, with a little bit of bacon grease. Dogs are now welcome on the Bully Ranchs lower patio, and chefs have created a special canine menu to welcome the four-legged friends.

VAIL – The Bully Ranch has built a local following with its famous burgers, and beginning this week, the Sonnenalp restaurant introduces one more patty to brag about. Starting with the Bully Ranch Burger as a base, the chef adds corn, oatmeal, vegetables and bacon grease, cooks it until well done and serves it cold in a silver-plated bowl. Sound good? Maybe not to you, but this “Dog Days” burger is created with the four-legged local in mind, and instant drooling has been the initial response.

It’s one of three items on a new gourmet canine menu at the Bully Ranch, which now allows pooches to dine with their owner on the lower patio. It’s all part of the Sonnenalp Resort’s initiative to make the hotel even more dog friendly for both tourists and locals. Sonnenalp Food and Beverage Director JP Quidore, who moved to Vail with Maxwell, a dog who helped out with 9/11 rescue, and Mookie, who often accompanies him to work, came up with the idea. Previously, he started a room service program for dogs when hotel guests checked in, sending a water bowl and homemade dog biscuits up to the room in hopes they would feel just as comfortable as their owners. The Bully Ranch menu was an extension of the service.

“My dog Mookie loves the Bully deck. It’s his favorite place to hang out,” Quidore said. “I consider the Bully one of the locals’ hang outs, and we saw so many dogs walking by constantly, we thought there’s no reason they can’t use the lower deck.”Pastry Chef Wilhelm Mayr created the recipes for the whole grain bacon doggie biscuit and the fluffy bacon doggie biscuit, also on the new menu, and one can imagine his reaction when asked to prepare dog food.”I was surprised to say the least. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but nothing like this,” Mayr said. Mayr, originally from Austria, has baked for White House dinners and worked under the von Trapp’s of “Sound of Music” fame, among other prestigious jobs. “But the most important thing is we have happy customers,” he added

Mayr said he researched the Internet for recipe ideas and tried about 2-3 different batches until he got it right. And yes, he did taste test each biscuit variety. What’s good for humans, he said, is good for dogs.”The key was using a little bacon grease,” Mayr said. “The dogs can smell it and taste it, and we know they love that kind of stuff.”To help promote the new doggy menu, the Bully Ranch is offering $3 mudslides – another famous menu item – on Tuesdays from 3-9 p.m.

“We get sunlight until sundown on this west side deck,” Manager of the Bully Ranch Jeremy Jones said. “We hope owners and their dogs will come hang out.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938 or Colorado

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