From hot dogs to Palooza in Kenwood

  • Jeff Tyler serves up hot dogs in Santa Rosa in 2011. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD FILE)

Back in 2008, Jeff Tyler was a general contractor and his wife, Suzette, worked as a real estate appraiser.

“Then the economy collapsed and I had to reinvent myself,” Jeff said.

The food business appealed to them, so the Tylers took a leap of faith.

“We started out with one hot dog stand, and now we have three,” Jeff explained, “as well as food trucks, as well as a catering service for higher-end parties.”

But the growth of the modest but robust Tyler empire didn’t end with that. Last February, the couple opened the Palooza Gastropub and Wine Bar in Kenwood, with a lively menu, equal emphasis on good beer and fine wine, and live entertainment. The reason for the move was a practical one.

“We outgrew our commissary space, and our catering business is growing fast,” Jeff said.

Palooza serves as a larger space for preparing catered food, but it also has become a hospitable haven in the Sonoma Valley. There’s an outdoor seating area with benches, and plenty of room inside, with three TVs for watching sports.

The Tylers’ “simple but good” menu includes hot dogs, of course, but also offers cheese plates, fried pickles and sun-dried-tomato deviled eggs, as well as hamburgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, pizza, salads and more. The pub maintains a rotating beverage list of 16 craft microbrews and 48 local wines.

Entertainment includes live music from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays and from noon to 3 p.m. on “Sangria Sundays,” with no cover charge. The pub also puts on occasional special events.

“We had a comedy show, and it was a great success,” Jeff said. “We’re planning to make it a series, with four shows a year.”

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