The Route 66 Dog Haus in Flagstaff, Arizona, best known for its role in key lines of The Eagles’ signature hit “Take It Easy,” recently swapped owners, but little else is changing.
According to Flagstaff Business News, longtime owner Gary McElfresh sold the restaurant at 1302 Historic Route 66 to longtime Flagstaff resident Bill Unkovich. The new owner told the newspaper he plans to keep the eatery’s legacy and charm.
“Gary and family created a local legend with everything they did over the years,” Unkovich observed. “All of his boys and grandchildren have worked at the restaurant, too. Great food, great atmosphere and super-personalized service: A wonderful reflection of Route 66 charm and history from the old days. Gary poured his heart and soul into this business and the community; we feel it to be a privilege to continue his example and legacy to the City of Flagstaff.”
Unkovich said he’s retaining Route 66 Dog Haus’ flagship items such as its chili, beer-battered onion rings, corn dogs, guacamole burgers and breakfast croissants. He has little incentive to change the menu — for 15 consecutive years, the Dog Haus won the Arizona Daily Sun’s Best of Flagstaff award for best breakfast burrito and best hot dog.
Unkovich said he’s adding a BLT croissant, a double patty melt and a breakfast burger.
The A-framed Route 66 Dog Haus opened in the late 1960s as a Der Wienerschnitzel, a fast-food chain based in the Los Angeles region. McElfresh bought the business in 1973. The newspaper reports “Der” was dropped from the restaurant name in 1977, and McElfresh changed the name from Wienerschnitzel to Dog Haus about 2000.
As for “Take It Easy,” the 1972 song’s principal writer, Jackson Browne, said the now-iconic lines “I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona / such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford / slowin’ down to take a look at me” actually were inspired at the Dog Haus in Flagstaff.
Browne has said he was in the back of a paneled van after his car broke down in Flagstaff and some new friends offered him a ride to Los Angeles. He was inspired to write some of the lyrics to the song after seeing a woman in a truck pulling out of what was then the red-and-mustard colored Wienerschnitzel restaurant at the corner of East Route 66 and North Switzer Canyon.
Laminated copies of the story of this music history have long been posted in the restaurant windows.
Browne said he changed the line from Flagstaff to Winslow, Arizona, simply because it sounded better. Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey contributed a few lines after Browne was having trouble finishing the song.
The tune spawned Standin’ on a Corner Park in Winslow, which has become one of the most-photographed spots on Route 66. It became a gathering spot for mourners after Frey died in 2016. The city commissioned a statue of Frey for the park and dedicated it months later.
(Excerpted image of Route 66 Dog Haus in Flagstaff, Arizona, via Google Street View)