May 29, 2024
Councilwoman Jovita Mendoza asked that the council re-evaluate and try to work out a deal with Lazy Dog Restaurant.

With plans in limbo for Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar to locate in Brentwood, one councilwoman is asking the council to take a second look to see if the city can still work out a deal.

Though the restaurant’s design plans earned the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval last week, that approval came with a number of design conditions that the developer, LRG Investors, could not agree to, so representatives made it clear they would walk late last week.

That’s when Councilwoman Jovita Mendoza stepped in to ask the City Council to reevaluate the Commission’s decision and try to work out an agreement.

“I pulled it for review in order to try to find a way to come to a consensus with him (the owner) and salvage the deal because we really want it,” Mendoza said. “I pulled it so that we can have more discussion and find a way to get to a ‘yes.’”

Lazy Dog restaurants are known for their Rocky Mountain-inspired looks. (City of Brentwood) (City of Brentwood)

Though the business owner or anyone could file an appeal to the City Council within 10 days to reconsider those conditions, on Friday a spokesperson from the restaurant said they would not move forward with such an appeal.

“We were very excited with the design plans presented at the (Aug. 15) hearing,” Steve Price, Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar co-founder, said in an email to this newspaper. “The proposed design was representative of our continued brand evolution and we were eager to serve future guests in the Brentwood community.

“It is unfortunate that our plans did not receive approval as proposed, and therefore we cannot move forward at this time. We look forward to our growth across other Bay Area locations and beyond and sharing the Lazy Dog experience with many new communities to come.”

The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar has long looked to locate in East Contra Costa County. In 2019 it was given the green light to build at the Streets of Brentwood shopping center, but those plans fizzled after an issue arose with the property owner.

Then last week, armed with a new streamlined design and a different parcel across the street, a proposal for a new, slightly larger Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar earned the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval as did a request to subdivide the property for the project.

The new proposal calls for a 9,089-square-foot restaurant with a 1,508-square-foot patio as well as a 764-square foot waiting area with stone tables and benches along with significant landscaping, including 65 shade trees and 176 parking stalls. The restaurant also would boast a 31-foot main entrance tower and diners will be able to bring their dogs and eat on the outside patio if they wish.

“It’s been many years that Lazy Dog has been working to come to your town and we’re excited to be coming here now,” Jared Taylor, a company representative, told commissioners at the Aug. 15 meeting. “…Lazy Dog really provides the opportunity for guests to go have a Rocky Mountain dining experience. Jackson Hole, Wyoming-inspired is the architecture that we bring to you and that opportunity to go have that Rocky Mountain dining experience without having to drive and leave town.”

Commissioners, though, questioned some design aspects, most importantly noting that equipment on the rooftop might be visible if the parapet is not high enough, something staff planners and an architect’s earlier review had also noted.

But Taylor said the company had already made changes to meet the city’s requests.

“We’ve changed the rooftop of the tower and all in response to the architect’s comments was really providing four sided architecture to the building,” he said. “You’re gonna see this building from all four sides and there’s finishes on all four sides, you know, it’s really going to be a beautiful building here.”

Taylor also pointed out that there was “a huge shakeup” in the construction and development industry during and after the COVID19 pandemic, with supply chain issues and skyrocketing costs. To keep the restaurant prices affordable, he said the company has had to make some building design changes.

Taylor questioned some of the city’s conditions for approval, saying they don’t agree with them.

“We asked for these conditions to be modified to be in alignment with the city code to require just that the rooftop equipment be screened from view on the ground and we feel that we can achieve that with our current proposal,” he said, noting raising the parapet height would be too costly.

But Commissioner Dirk Zeigler said the plan looks “significantly different” from the original one.

“We hold our standards pretty high here in Brentwood,” he said.

“We like detail. We expect more and that’s why we ask for it. I look at the things like the windows, where before there were additional detail elements in the windows. That’s all gone.”

Zeigler later asked that staff be sure that the window details were sufficient if the project were approved.

“Lazy Dog Restaurant, like every restaurant, we cannot stay the same as we once were,” Taylor explained, directing commissioners to the restaurant design for Lazy Dog in San Mateo for comparison. “Every restaurant chain goes through an evolution. This is the building that we’re building now. This is in multiple locations.”

“This is a different building, but this is still a beautiful building,” he added. “ And I think it’s important to look at the building with the landscape as well because there is an abundance of landscape we’re proposing, more landscape than the code requires here.”

Commissioner Spalding acknowledged the restaurant had a right to rebrand but the city also had a right to hold its standards and guidelines.

Commissioner Rod Flohr said that while he thought the building was “good-looking,” he favored following the staff’s recommendations to increase the parapet height.

The board later agreed, approving the design and the staff’s recommendations for all but one of a list of design improvements.

The popular chain restaurant, known for its rustic, Rocky Mountain-inspired design and comfort foods, recently opened a restaurant in San Mateo, which the Brentwood design mimicked. There are Lazy Dogs in San Jose, Cupertino, Dublin, Newark, Concord and San Mateo/Foster City.

Brentwood Assistant City Manager Darin Gale said the city is still working to secure a deal.

“Residents continue to express interest in having a variety of new restaurants come to town and Lazy Dog is one of those that they specifically mentioned,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re hopeful that they’ll continue to move a project forward here in Brentwood.”

Check back for updates.