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New owner pledges to maintain the Big Dog spirit after buying business from long-time owner Randy Knight

PAT KRUIS/MADRAS PIONEER
 - New owners Charlie and Cyrene Smith pledge to maintain the old "Big Dog" spirit. They hired back the former staff, and when they reopened the doors April 1, all the regulars came to celebrate.

The Big Dog Saloon on Crooked River Ranch reopened this week with a new owner. Charlie Smith says he's starting over right where Randy Knight left off.

The bar and grill closed in November when Knight collapsed from an aneurysm and discovered he had COVID. Knight has recovered now, but he took his doctor's advice and sold the restaurant he ran for 17 years.

"I want to buy it," says Smith, "because I didn't want somebody from out of town buying it and changing it."

Smith and his wife, Cyrene, came out of 15 years of retirement to take over the restaurant with a pledge to maintain the spirit Knight built up over the years.

"It's a 'Cheers' bar," says Smith, "where everybody knows your name."

Smith hired back all the employees that worked for Knight. Many of the regulars showed up when he open April 1, and he's been doing brisk business ever since.

Smith has spruced up a bit and has plans for a larger kitchen, patio seating in the back, and new menu items, but he'll maintain the same schedule of community-oriented events and support for military veterans and first responders.

"On Mother's Day, we plan to dedicate five flag poles," says Smith, "one for the American flag and each branch of service, along with a POW MIA flag."

The restaurant has a new sign. It's now "Charlie's Big Dog Saloon."


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