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Blind Dog Restaurant & Raw Bar marks 25 years of seafood tradition in Park City

Founder Penelope Kinsey continues her family's legacy with a community-focused dining experience

Blind Dog Restaurant & Raw Bar is a community mainstay with a quarter-century pledge to bring excellent seafood to Park City. Penelope Kinsey, Blind Dog founder and executive chef, began visiting Park City when her family bought a vacation home in 1985. 

Life near the ocean laid the foundation for Penelope’s relationship with aquatic cuisine. “I’m an East Coast girl,” Penelope says. “I was born and raised on oysters and blue crab. I don’t remember learning how to shuck an oyster, and I don’t remember eating my first oyster. They have always been in our life.”

Seafood is more than a favorite family pastime for Penelope. Her grandfather owned a Delaware-based restaurant, The Sea Horse. Her rich history with food led Penelope to pursue a career as a classically trained chef. Prompted by the impending 2002 Winter Olympics, Penelope decided to expand her family’s seafood legacy to Park City, opening Blind Dog. 

“I was born and raised on oysters and blue crab.” Penelope Kinsey, Blind Dog Owner and Executive Chef. Photo: Park City Photographers // Deb DeKoff

“When the Olympics were announced, I off-handedly said, ‘We should go out there, open a restaurant for the Olympics, then come back east,'” Penelope remembers. So, in June of ’98, Penelope came to Park City to see her dad. They looked at real estate, put in an offer, and got it. 

Fortunately, post-Olympics, Penelope and Blind Dog remained. The original restaurant sat a total of 64 guests. In April 2010, Blind Dog temporarily closed its doors in preparation for a move to a space that would accommodate many more. It reopened in December 2010 in its current location, which now seats up to 500 diners: 300 indoors and 200 on the patio. 

No matter the size of Blind Dog, family is always the center component. Penelope’s favorite menu items are those that give a nod to her early restaurant experiences at The Sea Horse. “I love anything I can do from the dishes [my grandfather] created when we had the restaurant back east,” Penelope says, “Our vinaigrette that goes on our house salad is my grandfather’s recipe. The cream spinach is his recipe from Delaware.”

Penelope and Derrek. Photo: Park City Photographers // Deb DeKoff

Penelope’s husband has an essential role in the restaurant as well. “Derrick is really good at procuring all the fish,” Penelope says. “He has found a lot of great purveyors for us.” Penelope and Derrick’s children, Khaki and Ketch, are an integral part of Blind Dog also. “They don’t know life without the restaurant… They are my hardest critics,” Penelope explains, “They know the staff well; that is their family.” 

Kinship at Blind Dog extends beyond blood relations. Every staff member is part of the restaurant family. “Everyone works together really well,” Penelope says. “Everyone has a great sense of humor. Sometimes they will tease and call me ‘Mom.'” 

The welcoming feel extends from staff to restaurant-goers. Penelope describes, “Some of the best friends we have in [Park City] we picked up at the bar at Blind Dog. You start talking with people about a bottle of wine, and it goes from there. The staff makes friends with guests as well,” Penelope says. 

Over the last two decades of service, Blind Dog has represented community and joy. “It’s been cool to see Blind Dog grow, our staff grow,” Penelope says. “It’s fun, it’s actually really fun.”

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