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Bone Appetit: Now canine cafes and restaurants are catering for doggie diners

The attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to an animal has whetted the appetite of entrepreneurs eager to carve out a place for themselves in a dog food market

Published: Feb 9, 2023 01:41:10 PM IST
Updated: Feb 9, 2023 01:58:11 PM IST

Bone Appetit: Now canine cafes and restaurants are catering for doggie dinersThere are many restaurants and cafés in major American cities for dogs. Image: Shutterstock

Only the best will do for man's best friend, it seems. At a time when some consumers are prepared to pay significant sums to pamper their pets, certain restaurant owners are capitalizing on this trend by opening eateries for dogs.

Pets' place in society has evolved considerably in recent years. It is no longer acceptable to give them leftover scraps or basic kibble, with pets now considered members of the family in their own right. And owners are by no means skimping on the means when it comes to offering their pets healthy and quality food. In fact, in the United States, pet owners spent an average of $368 on their dog's food in 2021, according to figures from the American Pet Products Association.

This anthropomorphism—the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal—has whetted the appetite of entrepreneurs eager to carve out a place for themselves in a dog food market dominated by giants like Royal Canin (owned by Mars) and Nestlé Purina Petcare. As such, many have now opened high-end food outlets catering exclusively for pooches.

In September, Rahmi Massarweh opened a dog-friendly bakery in the heart of San Francisco. He offers a selection of cakes inspired by the great classics of (human) gastronomy and containing no preservatives or "toxic ingredients" for our four-legged friends. Dogs can also enjoy different kinds of canine cappuccinos, or "dogguccinos," to accompany their treats. And every Sunday, San Franciscan dogs can sample Dogue's "Bone Appétit" menu for $75, according to the culinary magazine Bon Appétit.

And there are many similar restaurants and cafés in major American cities. In New York City, Chateau le Woof is an institution for all dog owners living around the Astoria neighborhood in Queens. This dog café offers a variety of salmon, duck, pork and turkey treats, as well as two flavors of ice cream. There are also three signature Sunday brunch dishes: bacon & eggs, peanut butter pancakes and fish & chips. All tailored to the nutritional needs of our four-legged friends. For its part, The Wilson added three "dog-friendly" dishes to its menu in 2019. At this eatery, New York pooches have the option of enjoying a tasty steak for $24, or a Wilson Burger with vegetables for $16. Elsewhere in the US, dogs and their owners can go to Hops & Hounds in San Antonio, Texas, or to one of the many Salty Paws franchises to eat together.

Also read: From cardigans and bow ties to designer carriers, luxury petwear is on the rise

A certain standard of living

Surprising as it may seem, dog owners are showing a real enthusiasm for these new kinds of cafés and restaurants. In fact, global Google searches for dog restaurants have been steadily increasing since 2015. A peak in search engine queries on this topic was recorded in 2021—proof that the Covid-19 pandemic and its various lockdowns have strengthened our emotional relationship with our pets.

As a result, dogs can now enjoy a certain standard of living. With designer clothes, high-tech toys, dogsitters, specific health insurance, CBD-based products, and natural, fresh, personalized and subscription-based food, the "petcare" market is closely following humans' own trends. Dog owners can now take their mascot everywhere with them, including to restaurants, without looking like some kind of oddball mistaking their pet for a child.

If this humanization of dogs is particularly prominent in North America, cafés and restaurants catering to the canine population have also emerged in Europe and Asia in recent years. Take the Dog Bakery in Stockholm, for example, whose decoration in the "Millennial pink" tones will delight the it-dogs of the Swedish capital (just like the tiny snacks they gobble down between two Instagram posts). In London, at the Smith & Whistle, dogs and humans can sip on a cocktail or a "dogtail" together after a hard day's work.

Doggie drinks might not (yet) be on the menu at Singapore's Urban Hideout, but canine diners can find a varied choice of dishes rich in animal proteins. If they wish, the hungriest pooches can finish their meal on a sweet note with a scoop of "dog friendly" ice-cream designed by the start-up Lunoji. A treat they're sure to love, according to the city-state's canine influencers.

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