Old Dogtown, New Tricks
All restaurant owners can agree on one universal truth: You need to be great or you'll be forced out. Dogtown Roadhouse in Floyd, Virginia, was about to learn this the hard way, when Anga Miller stepped in. She bought the restaurant with her partner, her son, her daughter-in-law, and another couple. And it's a good thing she did.
Sure, being the managing owner of a restaurant is time-consuming, but Anga wasn't new to business ownership. "[It's] just in my nature," she says, reflecting on her life as an entrepreneur. "My father owned a business that he took over from his father [and] it never occurred to me to do it any other way." Following college graduation, Anga took her art degree and did what any born entrepreneur would do: She hit the ground running. From selling art at craft fairs to founding a line of hand-painted Ecuadorian clothing in 1983 (still thriving), to owning a building full of tenants — including Dogtown — Anga blazed a busy trail.
But juggling two businesses and taking over a third didn't leave much time for worrying about the "extras" like insurance. Luckily, Insureon didn't mind pulling that weight. And Anga didn't mind either. "I was intimidated about buying insurance online, but I decided to check it out and the person I talked to initially was fantastic," she says, remembering that she saw Insureon in an industry magazine. "[It was] one process that went very smoothly in a time period when all of those kind of things were pretty overwhelming." So with one less worry, Anga was free to approach Dogtown with the same energy as she did her other ventures.
"For me, running a business is running a business," says Anga, while acknowledging that running a restaurant and bar has a few unique twists.
The four-year-old crew had a lot of experience, but harnessing their knowhow proved tricky. "Dealing with staff that had been there a long time and had their own way of doing things [was difficult]," says Anga. "You have to … discover which of these people are good at what things and then how to use those people where their talents are a benefit to the company." Despite the bumps, however, Dogtown came out on top with a staff of 13 and the same classic trio it was known for: pizza, beer, and music.
Though the beer selection at Dogtown is solid and the wood-fired pizza is nothing to scoff at ("The best pizza around," Anga insists, adding that Dogtown slung 3,000 pizzas from an outdoor pizza oven at Floyd Fest 2014), its music scene is what really sets the restaurant apart. From smaller acts to the likes of Leon Russell, Grace Potter, and Richie Havens, Dogtown has seen its share of shows and regulars know to check the calendar on the restaurant's Facebook page for who's playing next. And if open mic is more appealing, Dogtown now offers that as well.
With musicians from the surrounding counties clamoring for an open mic spot, the Sunday-night scene doesn't disappoint, but musicians looking to join need to plan ahead and reserve a slot (it's that popular). There's always an audience, probably because it's much easier to get a spot listening. The scene is family-friendly — though Anga notes that the youngsters taper off when the music kicks in — and, as Floyd is a big tourist area, out-of-towners are always welcome. Given that Floyd's population is roughly 500, in fact, out-of-towners often outnumber the locals.
So why might someone chose Dogtown in the first place? "What's different about Dogtown is we have a really relaxed setting, we're probably in the best location in town, and we have a lot of room," says Anga. Add pizza, beer, and music to that equation and it's basically perfect. But you don't have to take Agna's word for it. When you see servers and bartenders from other restaurants in town stop by Dogtown for a bite or a drink after work, you can ask them. Then again, when the music starts and the food arrives, the answer will probably be obvious.
For more information on what Dogtown Roadhouse has to offer, visit www.dogtownroadhouse.com.