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Issue Date: January 2014 Issue


Most Interesting People 2014: Sean Watterson

Sean Watterson

HAPPY DOG CO-OWNER, 44

Why he's interesting: Watterson went from the world of global finance to co-owning Happy Dog in the Gordon Square Arts District. He's since turned the bar — known for its $5 hot dogs topped with as many tasty condiments as guests want — into a haven for music with performances by local indie bands such as Herzog as well as the Cleveland Orchestra. With the opening of Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern later this year, Clevelanders will soon be able to load up on good food and good music on both sides of the Cuyahoga.

Globe Trotter: Before being known as the guy who slings beers and hot dogs to willing Clevelanders, Watterson worked in global finance for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Citibank and Bank of America. His first day of work at the SEC Foreign Affairs office in Washington, D.C., was Sept. 10, 2001. "So that changed my portfolio, I guess you could say. I ended up doing a lot of work in anti-money laundering, counterterrorism finance."

World Weary: After almost 10 years of visiting nearly 40 countries working with banks and other exchange commissions, Watterson felt burnt out. "Anybody who is working in something like that, should be [at the job] when you've got the energy and enthusiasm and the interest. When that starts to wane, it's time to hand off to somebody else."

Homeward Bound: The native Clevelander came home and bought the Happy Dog in 2008 with former stock broker colleague Sean Kilbane. "[My] first year back, I lived above the bar, still working for Bank of America, on conference calls starting at 7 a.m., and the bands were playing until 2 a.m. It got to be too much, so I moved and quit the bank to do Happy Dog full time."

Dog Gone: In 2013, he was recruited by World Bank to be part of a contingent working with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. Although he was away from Happy Dog, the long flights and hotel stays gave him a chance to think about two or three more event series that the bar can host. "It's a bit of a luxury being able to get out of the country and have that time where you can free your mind up. And I get to wear a Happy Dog shirt in every country I go to."

TOp This: Watterson has a go-to list of toppings for his hot dog. "I like the chocolate mole, chunky peanut butter, Spanish onion and bacon. The peanut butter melts and the mole melts, and you've got some sweetness and a little bit of bite with the onion and then bacon."


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