Forces of Nature
At Lazy Dog, we find inspiration all around us — in the changing seasons, the activities we love (camping, road trips and visiting local breweries, to name just a few), the families we serve and the awesome farms we work with. And one of the ways we share what inspires us most is through our menu.
The best part is when our guests (that’s you!) take notice. Our 2018 fall menu caught the eye of Stasie Page, a longtime teacher and yearbook adviser at Valley View Middle School in Simi Valley, CA. She frequents Lazy Dog with her family, and last year she found something on the menu she didn’t know she could order: classroom inspiration.
Like previous menus, this one introduced a new series of original watercolor, painted by Lazy Dog Creative Director Rebecca Simms. And the nature-forward, whimsical illustrations struck a chord for Stasie. “I wasn’t sure how to incorporate a theme into our yearbook design until I saw Lazy Dog’s menu — the flow of seasonal designs from beginning to end all made sense and hit me like a lightning bolt,” she told us. “As soon as I pitched the theme idea to the staff, it was love at first sight. The menu’s design sparked a wildfire of passion, creativity and thematic design into our yearbook like I’ve never seen before.”
The students decided to title their masterpiece “Force of Nature.” The concept and design was a runaway hit with students, teachers and parents in the community, so much so, in fact, that Stasie decided to reward her class with lunch at the restaurant that provided the yearbook’s design inspiration.
“We are so proud to offer guests handcrafted food made from scratch. When designing our menu, it felt important that it reflected that and had the same made-by-hand style,” Rebecca explains. “The watercolor helps tell the story of the season we are celebrating and also captures the essence of who we are. It allows us to introduce the ingredients, their stories and the great outdoors, which are all a huge part of who we are. I see our menu as a way to connect with each guest and share a piece of our heart and soul with them.”
At the end of the school year, Stasie reached out to Rebecca over Instagram DM (because, 2019!) to explain the menu’s impact on the yearbook’s design and theme, and asked if students might be able to meet with her at the restaurant. She hoped her student team would have the chance to ask Rebecca about her process and how she forged a career doing the things she loves.
A few days later Rebecca and her team drove up to Thousand Oaks to meet Stasie and surprise the Valley View yearbook team at their end of year celebration. During lunch, Rebecca sat with the class and talked shop. She shared her major sources of inspiration, which often come from the awesome relationships we have with the farms we source from. “When I meet our farmers and ranchers in their hometowns, I learn so much about the people, the ingredients and the places they come from,” Rebecca told them. “I do my best to bring that all to life on each menu.”
After lunch, the whole group lingered at the table and shared stories about their layouts and design challenges. Nobody wanted to be the first to leave. In the end, it’s these students who truly inspire us, and we couldn’t be happier to play a tiny role in something that they created together. We wish this group of middle schoolers the best in the coming school year and can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!
“My goal in reaching out to Rebecca was to share with her how her menu designs inspired a team of middle school yearbook staffers to create one of their best accomplishments to date. I did not expect such an amazing response,” Stasie said. “Our hearts are filled with appreciation. We are forever fans of Lazy Dog.”
p.s Our brand-new seasonal menu rolled out this week, and that means new fall recipes and new artwork!
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Words by Nicole Adlman // Photography by Stasie Page + Archel Arindaeng