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These Side-by-Side Eateries are Serving Classic Favorites and Fusing New Flavors 

Last year presented many of us with unparalleled challenges. While many struggled to pivot their businesses to meet these challenges, others found opportunities to dive in and start new ventures altogether. 

One new business that has found success is Escondido-based The Barking Dog Deli (formerly the Continental Deli) at 120 Kalmia Street and its next-door restaurant Fusion on the corner of Kalmia and Gand, which is set to open mid-January. Both restaurants are owned and operated by friends Jamie Horgan and Jenny Hwang. Their friendship began 10 years ago when Jamie and her husband, John - design-build contractors by trade - designed Hwang’s sushi bar Ginza Sushi in Rancho Bernardo. That friendship has since evolved into a business partnership. 

“We found out this property was for lease, we told Jenny about it, and things just evolved from there,” said Horgan, whose husband also helps run the eateries. The Barking Dog Deli serves sandwiches, delicious salads, soups, hamburgers, pizza, and of course, hot dogs. Horgan’s favorite dish is the California Salad. “It has lots of greens, all kinds of different fruits, and a citrus vinaigrette,” she said. “It’s a lovely salad and I like it with grilled chicken added.”

Delicious salad & sandwiches selections from The Barking Dog Deli

Along with people's food, the deli also serves specially made human-grade dog food and treats, including a doggy pizza, a burger, grilled chicken and chicken liver brownies. A full deli case of homemade dog treats will be available starting in January. Horgan’s first passion is dogs. She is the director of the dog rescue Dog Squad Rescue in San Diego and a portion of the dog food sales from the deli will go to the non-profit.

The Barking Dog Deli officially opened on November 11, 2020. Even though they opened during the pandemic, the women felt hopeful that at the time, the pandemic was nearing its end. “It was during the pandemic, but we thought everything was getting better and we had a great opportunity to get into a great piece of real estate here in Escondido,” said Horgan. Fusion, which is next door and shares an outdoor courtyard, was scheduled to open in December just before the second shutdown. “We ordered our food for the restaurant and were ready and able to open, then they shut everything down again,” Horgan said.

Mouthwatering burgers and pizza surrounded by one of a kind murals  

Fusion’s menu is a mix of classic dishes such as hamburgers and veggie lasagna and fusion meals such as bulgogi (a thinly sliced Korean marinated prime steak) pizza and fries.“We are currently testing bulgogi nachos with a fresh wasabi cheese sauce,” Horgan added. Diners who eat in the courtyard can order from either menu and once the dining orders have been lifted, the courtyard will be open for service.

Until then, both eateries offer their entire menu to-go and since opening have seen a lot of support from the City, especially from Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development, Amber Tarrac.“Amber came in and asked if there was anything she could do to help us,” said Horgan, adding that Tarrac helped her with social media contacts, and permits to allow for more outdoor seating. “She has been the greatest help.”

“It’s inspiring to see people starting new businesses and investing in our City during the pandemic,” Tarrac said. “We are here to help them succeed and I’m glad that the Horgans and Hwang have decided to bring their culinary talents to Escondido. We look forward to supporting their success. "

Horgan added that many City employees and management have ordered food from their restaurants and is grateful for the support. She has been posting dishes on social media sites such as the Barking Dog Deli Facebook, and local sites such as Escondido Eats, the Escondido Eats FaceBook group, and Everything Escondido.

                                                                                        Beautiful image of Escondido artist Mauro Alvarez’s mural

As word-of-mouth spreads and brings in new customers, so does the curiosity about the wall mural outside. It was painted by Escondido artist and friend of the Horgans, Mauro Alvarez. “Mauro is a friend of ours and he offered to paint it for us,” Horgan said. “We have also commissioned him to do a mural on the ceiling in the bar.”

Alvarez said the mural depicts a fusion of the Oceanside Pier and an 80s pop art style. He is a self-taught artist who creates commissioned works for private clients. One of his other works in Escondido is a mural dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant at Country Club Barbershop on Grand.

Other art pieces by local artists are hung throughout both restaurants. “We are inviting local artists to put their art on our walls,” said Horgan. She says sales from the art will be donated to the rescue or other non-profits. She added that she realizes there are many people in need right now and she wants to help. “If there’s any way we can give back, we will,” she said.  Local artists can inquire with Horgan about displaying their works. 

Looking ahead, Horgan is hopeful that people will be allowed to dine out again and enjoy community gatherings.“I hope that everybody is healthy. That we can put the pandemic behind us and just open our doors, and be able to spend time with friends, family, and engage in our community.”

The Barking Dog Deli is located at 120 Kalmia Street and Fusion is located at 201 E. Grand Avenue. Call ahead 760-294-1985 for to-go orders.