New grill offers art, eclectic eats

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 15, 2011
Barry Markey and Bob Plugge opened Three Dogs Grill in late October.
Barry Markey and Bob Plugge opened Three Dogs Grill in late October.
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Three Dogs Grille, in the old Meeting Place location, showcases a varied menu, as well as art from Hollingsworth.

If Palm Coast had a downtown, Three Dogs Grille, located at 278 Palm Coast Parkway in the former Meeting Place, would sit in the center of the strip.

The layout is basically the same as it was: tables on the right, high-tops in the middle, the bar holding its ground on the left. But the space is more pronounced, backed by mirrors, bottles, glasses and checkerboard tiling. On the right, rock siding covers the bottom half of the walls, while lighted art from Holingsworth Gallery colors the tops, adding to the eatery’s urban street-corner vibe.

Waitresses wear shirts and ties. Bartenders wear old-timey bellhop suits.

“We wanted to create a place where we would want to hang out,” said Barry Markey, who co-owns the place with Bob Plugge.

They say they envision their restaurant as an after-work lounge for young professionals, or a dinner spot for middle-aged residents looking for somewhere classy but comfortable. Not stuffy, but not a shorts-and-flip-flops joint, either.

It’s a place with craft beers and live jazz. A real gastropub, Markey said, describing it as “a pub with really good food.”

“Right from the very get-go, we wanted to get artsy, bluesy kind of people in here,” he added. “It’s a tight-knit community, so if you can get them coming, you can probably keep them coming.”

In addition to serving as an “outreach” to Hollingsworth’s main gallery (statues and copper pieces are on the way, as well), Three Dogs will also play host to the gallery’s art opening after-parties.

“That really defines who we are in this place,” Plugge said. They’ve always been art lovers.

Although the two have only known each other six months, from positions at Billy’s Tap Room in Ormond Beach, they clicked immediately. Barry’s the wallflower. Bob’s the talker. And at the end of October, they became partners, took over The Meeting Place and put three weeks into a full makeover.

They rebuilt walls, repainted, put in new flooring and trim, and gutted then rebuilt the kitchen.

Early on, the pair realized they had similar backgrounds and styles. Markey has a history in four- and five-star hotels. Plugge has owned more than 10 restaurants, mainly in the New England area.

“It’s very unusual to have two chefs on one site with the amount of experience that we have,” Plugge said. And their menu — which they describe as American-New American, “with classical methods and local flare” — reflects that, touting items such as Australian shepherd burgers, duck focaccia sandwiches, venison pot pies, bangers and mash and po’ boys.

It’s their daily specials, though, where they feel they shine.

“Whatever suits our fancy and whatever’s in season,” Markey said, explaining that the specials menu is in constant flux. They ship in fresh fish two, three or more times a week. And they don’t even have a freezer on site — everything’s fresh, and changes with their moods and the seasons.

“There’s nothing I can’t stand more than opening up a menu at a restaurant and feeling like I could be in any restaurant (anywhere),” Markey said.

That’s why they think outside the box. The pastas they use are nontraditional. Their sandwiches come on ciabbatta, with things like smoked gouda, arugula, beets and roasted butternut. They make their own stocks and soups. Their fries are hand-cut.

“We take our food very, very seriously,” Plugge said. “But we don’t take ourselves very seriously.”

For more, call 445-1310.

Contact Mike Cavaliere at [email protected].


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