Restaurants Let Dog Owners Dine Al Fresco with their Pooches for Extra Revenue
A smattering of upscale restaurants like Citron are expanding to let dog owners dine al fresco with their pooches while creating a source of extra revenue in a competitive industry. Restaurants generally take underutilized outdoor patio space where owners can dine with their dogs. Some have separate menus with special entrees for dogs: anything from lamb stir fry to meat loaf to scrambled eggs with bacon bits. When the pooch needs to take a bathroom break, space is provided at the side or behind the restaurant, complete with waste pickup bags
At a recent lunch at his favorite restaurant, David Fountain ordered the chicken sandwich with a glass of Chardonnay. His companion, Hannah, got the restaurant's Gravy Train, a chicken with demi-glace and rice dish, and a bowl of water.
Hannah, a champagne-colored poodle, was one of the four-legged diners having lunch on the patio at Citron, a restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel in Palm Springs, Calif. Mr. Fountain spends four afternoons a week at the restaurant because it is quiet enough to conduct business—and dogs are welcomed. "She'll have one of her meals of the day there. She enjoys the whole atmosphere," says Mr. Fountain, a 63-year-old attorney mediator.
Art and Soul, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.'s, Capitol Hill neighborhood, started offering a "pooch patio menu" in 2009 with items like the bowser beer (a nonalcoholic beer) and a frozen raw bone sprinkled with dill. The restaurant's pastry chef bakes fresh dog biscuits as well. Savory items are cooked on a separate burner. "We treat it as a kind of kosher item," says Patrick Chiappetta, director of operations at the restaurant, part of the Liaison Hotel.
The restaurant "needed to come up with a way to make the patio more appealing to people in the neighborhood," says Mr. Chiappetta. Customers who don't want to eat amid dogs and their owners can sit inside, he adds.
The raw bone ($5) and "hungry dawg" steak ($8) are the biggest sellers, with the dog food menu making up 20% of the revenue for all side dishes sold on the patio, he says. About 20 dogs a week come to the restaurant with ...