Zombie Dogz restaurant draws big crowd on opening day

Zombie Dogz fans started lining up an hour before the doors opened this morning at the food truck’s first restaurant on Brown Street near the University of Dayton.

This wasn’t part of some food giveaway. The customers just wanted to be among the first to try the bricks-and-mortar version of the popular food truck.

“We wanted to be part of the first day, in part because we were here the first day they had the food truck,” said Ricky Watts, who, along with Kathy Vergakis, were the first two customers when the restaurant opened its doors at 10 a.m. today, Nov. 13. They arrived at 9 a.m., and the line had grown to about two dozen by the time the doors were opened.

“The food is great, and you’re not going to find customer service any better,” Vergakis said after the two took pictures of their dressed-up hot dogs.

The restaurant is offering a dozen “core” dogs from its long list of specialties, including “Sliced and Diced” with roasted pears goat cheese crumbles, mixed greens, candied almonds and balsamic glaze; “Smells Like Zombie Spirit,” with shredded Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing or brown mustard; and “Juan of the Dead,” with slow-cooked barbecue pork topped with shredded Swiss cheese, diced dill pickles and yellow mustard.

Zombie Dogz co-founder Dave VanArtsdalen said the restaurant opened with 28 employees. The restaurant seats about 50 in its 2,000-square-foot space. Zombie Dogz’ hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The food truck has a strong, loyal customer base — its Facebook page has more than 37,000 followers — and a reputation that extends beyond Dayton. Zombie Dogz was named “Best Food Truck in Ohio” in Ohio Magazine’s 2016 Best of Ohio Readers’ Ballot. And it finished second in Mobile Cuisine’s 2016 Hot Dog Vendor of the Year poll.

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