How to Open a Dog Friendly Restaurant

How to Open a Dog Friendly Restaurant. You've decided to go into the restaurant business or already own one--and you love dogs and think it would be a nice touch to not discriminate against them at your establishment. Your city or state, however, feels otherwise. Here are several options to explore in order to pursue opening a dog-friendly eatery.

Apply for a variance (exception) through your local health department. The only way to at least be considered is to separate dogs from the food preparation and serving areas. One way is to install a window similar to that at a fast food drive-through to pass the food along.

Set up a covered, partially or almost fully enclosed patio if your city or state allows dogs at outdoor seating areas. It will need to have a fully-closing door between it and the main restaurant or serving area in order to still be considered outdoors. You can install heaters for the winter time and spray misters for the summer to make it more comfortable.

Open a bar/pub or coffee and drink cafe. In many areas, establishments that do not serve food except for pre-packaged snacks like pretzels and potato chips can allow dogs inside. However, keep in mind that certain city/state laws don't require much in the way of snacks for it to qualify as a restaurant.

Make it a private club where dues are paid for a monthly or annual membership. If you only allow members, and not the public at large, you might get around food establishment health codes. You may want to have another purpose for your club, such as entertainment or a dog play area.

Have a "delivery only" menu with food brought in from nearby restaurants or make it BYOF. You would probably be allowed to serve drinks and possibly offer packaged snacks.


  • Search dog-friendly restaurants online and visit some in person. Most will have a separate entrance for the outdoor patio or be an outdoor restaurant. Only consider neighborhoods where you see people out a lot with their dogs and frequently spot dogs on patios at coffee houses and cafes. A "yappy hour" (dog-friendly happy hour) is a good way to bring in business. You can serve cocktails to the humans and bowls of scotch and water to their pooches--just don't forget to 86 the scotch.


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