Opening a Dog-Friendly Cafe
The meaning of a “good time” for us dog companions is being able to bring our four-legged friends with us wherever we go. Many establishments have now opened their doors to pets, yet not all businesses are as animal-friendly as we’d hope.
If you’re craving a nice cup of coffee or a meal out with your furry friend, it could be tricky finding the right place to go. The challenge is shared by fellow dog parents all over, but what if you planned on opening a dog-friendly cafe of your own?
Of course, it’s not as simple as just setting up a few tables and chairs and calling it a day. Opening a pet-friendly business requires attention to detail, and quite a few nitpicks along the way. Remember – it’s easy to conceptualize a cafe with a dog-friendly atmosphere. After all, you can hang a “Dogs are Welcome Here!” sign on the door, right? But putting it into action is a whole other story. Here are some tips on opening a dog-friendly cafe for success:
1 – Know local regulations and food safety standards.
This is crucial and will differ from one area to another. Even cities have their food safety bylaws, so before you start serving food to customers with their dogs, ensure you’re up to date on all the regulations. Do your research and guarantee that you’re following the guidelines to prevent any legal issues down the road.
2 – Get a permit.
In Vancouver for example, dog-friendly businesses need a permit to allow dogs inside. You’ll need to look into this before opening your doors to four-legged customers. Allowing dogs in a food preparation area may pose a serious risk to customers, so having a permit is essential. Permits are a necessity, even in dog-friendly cities like Vancouver. The reason is that food safety is always the top priority – and rightfully so.
3 – Find a good location.
Your cafe’s success will depend heavily on its location. A good location will make it convenient for people to pop in for a quick coffee or bite to eat with their furry friend. If you want to attract dog owners, it’s best to find a spot that’s easily accessible and has a lot of foot traffic. If you’re putting up a cafe in Vancouver, check out popular dog-walking areas like Stanley Park or Queen Elizabeth Park. These are great places to set up shop because there’s already a high demand for food and drink options in these areas.
4 – Decide what kind of atmosphere you want to create.
The ideal atmosphere sets the tone for the rest of your business; it’ll determine what policies and procedures you put in place. For example, do you want your cafe to be a relaxed and casual spot where people come to socialize with their dogs? Or would you prefer a more formal setting where dog owners enjoy a nice meal while their pets are confined in a designated area like a patio? Your cafe’s atmosphere also determines the type of menu you offer. If you’re going for a casual vibe, you’re better off offering quick and easy dishes that can be prepared quickly. For a more upscale setting, consider a sit-down menu with gourmet options.
5 – Focus on the details.
You must dig into the details as soon as you’ve come up with the kind of atmosphere you want to create. This includes everything from the type of furniture you’ll use to the design of your menu. Choose materials that are easy to clean and aren’t harmful to animals. For instance, using outdoor furniture is a practical way to ensure your cafe withstands a little wear and tear (and muddy paws!).
To avoid any accidents, it’s important to have a few rules in place regarding where pets are allowed and what kind of behaviour is expected. For example, you might want to consider having a designated area for dogs or ask that owners always keep their pets on a leash. Also, keep in mind that not all dogs are well-behaved. Knowing how to navigate this will help you while you’re opening a dog-friendly cafe.
6 – Train your staff.
Your employees must be well-versed in all things dogs, from canine body language to breeds and behaviour. They should also know how to handle common situations, such as a dog begging for food or getting into a tussle with another dog. Consider offering in-house training or sending your staff to workshops and seminars. Either way, make sure they’re knowledgeable and comfortable working with dogs before opening your doors to pets.
7 – Put a premium on your outdoor area.
No cafe is dog-friendly without a great outdoor space. This is where dogs will relieve themselves and play, so it’s important to design a functional and stylish area. Include plenty of seating for pet owners, plus water bowls and waste bags. You might also want to set up a few dog-friendly games or toys to keep pups entertained.
8 – Promote your cafe.
Make sure dog owners are aware of your business by promoting it through word-of-mouth, flyers, and social media. Don’t forget to hold a grand opening event or offer special deals for those who bring their dogs. The goal is to convince people to bring their pets to your cafe. After all, what’s better than enjoying a good cup of coffee with your best friend by your side?
9 – Be prepared for the worst.
No matter how well you train your staff or how dog-friendly your cafe is, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. That’s why it makes sense to have a plan for dealing with accidents, injuries, and other emergencies. Keep a first-aid kit on hand and ensure your staff knows how to use it. You should also have a list of local veterinarians and animal hospitals in an emergency.
Enjoy the Ride
Running a dog-friendly cafe is a lot of work, but it’s also tons of fun. Get ready to meet new people and their furry friends and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re providing a much-needed service to your community. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! This is your chance to create a business that reflects your love of dogs, so make the most of it.