Located at 3148 NE 12th Avenue in Oakland park, and on the edge of the roundabout that adorns the corner, and under the City of Oakland Park arch, sits a local favorite spot: The Big Dog Station Bar.
A common misconception by those who have not yet entered their doors think it is a hot dog stand, but it is much more than that. It is actually a very popular hangout full-service bar with a full menu offering a variety of foods.
The bar was formerly Big Dog Saloon in Wilton Manors, but the parking situation became unbearable and complicated, so in 2009 owner Debbie Blakely up and moved Big Dog to Oakland Park. Debbie rebranded and revamped the bar to what into Big Dog Station.
Big Dog Station has bar favorites like wings, hamburgers, and yes, hot dogs too! But other popular items include salads, and a variety of sandwiches. There are so many deciding on which one to try is quite an undertaking!
Other starter items include fried mushrooms, corn nuggets, quesadillas, onion rings, and the ever-popular bar foods like jalapeno poppers and tater tots. But the most popular item asked for at the bar are the chicken wings. Common “flavors” are teriyaki, hot, mild, medium, and honey garlic. A unique one, not seen at many bars that serve wings, is lemon pepper. Just thinking of it gets the mouth watering!
Owner, Debbie Blakely, very proudly boasts that she has the clientele any bar owner would want. Looking and nodding towards the window, she says, “I can name every single person out there and in here at the bar.” In the outside seating area, laughter and animated conversation can be seen from inside the bar. Outside was quite occupied by people Covid conscious and also wanting to enjoy the nice weather we have been having. Inside, people (also socially distanced) can be seen enjoying each other’s company. They are not strangers to each other. Debbie spoke about how once a client continues to come, they become known by name and are like family. The bar is bright, colorful, clean and inviting. It shines and glistens showing evidence of cleanliness and pride. No wonder regulars love Big Dog!
Unfortunately, Big Dog Station wasn’t immune to the pandemic. Debbie had to shut down her entire operation when full restrictions came into effect. What hurt the most was that she had to shut down on Saint Patrick’s Day at 5pm on what is probably the busiest days for bars. Luckily they were able to celebrate the Dog’s famous Finnegan’s Wake, just before the shut down. On St. Patrick’s Day she tried to provide take out services for her clients, but it was not the same and it just wasn’t a good fit.
Sadly, during the pandemic, beloved Oakland Park local and friend, Jack White, passed on. Debbie, and those who knew Jack could not celebrate his life together. Debbie says, “That will be out first big party when it is allowed again. We will celebrate his life.”
As it turns out, Big Dog Station just celebrated its 12th year with a very socially distanced party. There was a band and had a great party vibe, but there were also reinforcements to make sure masks and distancing were observed.
Debbie playfully says, “If I had a dollar for every time I had to remind people to fix or wear their masks…” Her voice trailed off, as she recalled. But continues, “They all complied. Everyone followed the guidelines.”
In the past, Big dog Station has hosted benefits, so the bar is not stranger to a full house of lively people having a good time. Debbie looks forward to days where we can all go back to that. For now, come join Debbie and her amazing staff and be part of her crowd. The bar is open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, except for Sundays when they open at 8 a.m.
Debbie has an eclectic crowd ranging from retirees who may come in early for conversation and relaxation, to people in the hospitality or restaurant businesses that close at midnight. So, they come on over to Big Dog Station to unwind! Debbie and her staff will be happy to have you. This welcoming vibe is what makes Big Dog Station an icon of the Oakland Park bar scene.
Anamaria Moreno is an Elementary school teacher. Born in Costa Rica, but mostly raised in Venezuela, Ms. Moreno came to South Florida in 1996 where she has resided ever since. She graduated from Lynn University, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in the classroom for 18 years, most recently teaching the first grade for the past seven years. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Moreno was involved in volunteer work with the Child Life Specialists Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. She also served as member of the Board of Directors for “A Caring Pregnancy Center” in Miami. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has taught at an elementary school in Oakland Park. Ms. Moreno also teaches ESOL to Adults in Night School. When Ms. Moreno is not in the classroom, she enjoys baking custom specialty cakes, face painting, and enjoys creating Arts and Crafts.