Dining With Denise Neil

Tanya Tandoc’s pug Olive, memorialized on menu, dies at age 18

A portrait of the late Tanya Tandoc and her pug, Olive, hangs in the restaurant she founded, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen. Olive died today at age 18. Local artist Richard Davies painted the portrait.
A portrait of the late Tanya Tandoc and her pug, Olive, hangs in the restaurant she founded, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen. Olive died today at age 18. Local artist Richard Davies painted the portrait.

The day that Wichita found out that well-known, much-loved local restauranteur Tanya Tandoc had been killed, I went to a gathering of her best girlfriends to talk to them for a story I was writing about her life.

The women were in a state of turmoil, of course, and their conversation was all over the place. Eventually, it landed on Tandoc’s pets, including her elderly black pug, Olive.

I had known Tanya since moving to Wichita, and several times we’d discussed our mutual love of pugs. She’d owned a few, including her dear Olive, a tiny little sweetheart of a black pug who was getting older and older. Tanya loved Olive dearly and even named a sandwich on the Tanya’s Soup Kitchen menu for her. “The Olive” is a creamy chicken salad sandwich with dried cherries, cashews and romaine on marbled rye.

Shortly after Tandoc died in 2015, the staff hung in the restaurant at 1725 E. Douglas a portrait of Tanya holding Olive that had been painted by local artist Richard Davies. You can still see it there today. Tandoc’s friends and business partners Kelly Rae Leffel and Sarah Osborn now own the restaurant.

At that meeting of Tanya’s friends that day, I was caught up in the emotion of the moment, and I volunteered to take Olive in. Later, I realized that my own aging pug, Norton, needed all the attention he could get. So I called another member of the pug community, Diana Guidas, whose pug had once modeled with Tanya and Olive in a photograph that ran with a story in a local magazine.

Diana happily took Olive in, and the sweet old girl had lived with her and her husband, Don, and their pugs Jack and Jill ever since. (Tanya’s brother, Warren, took in her pit bull, Lucy, and her Boston terrier, Doc, who died about two weeks ago at age 18.)

Recently, Olive – age 18 years and seven months – quit eating, and anyone who knows pugs knows that if a pug stops eating, it’s a bad sign. Olive also couldn’t really walk anymore. The Guidas family decided that today was the day that Olive would be reunited with Tanya. Olive passed away peacefully this morning in the office of her longtime veterinarian, Kara James.

“She was crying. My husband was crying,” Diana Guidas said. “I cried yesterday but I didn't cry at the vets today. I held her while she passed into Tanya's arms.”

The staff at Tanya’s also arranged their own tribute to Olive today.

The menu chalkboard today featured the message “Rest in Peace, Olive the Pug.”

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