This week, we’re celebrating dining with dogs with a fun giveaway and a round-up of the most dog-friendly restaurants for two-legged and four-legged diners. Jay Jerrier, founder and owner of Cane Rosso, and chef-proprietor Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington are dog owners and advocates, each involved in helping homeless animals in their own way.
Jerrier (pictured above with his dog Gipsy) founded Cane Rosso Rescue to help find homes for abandoned dogs. His passion project began when he helped save Walter, a Viszla mix at a shelter in Arlington, Texas. The organization was born soon after, with a goal to support local dog rescue groups, building a network of foster homes and helping to find forever homes for dogs in need. To date, they have assisted more than 300 dogs. They now have a rescue center in Carrollton, Texas, where volunteers can care for as many as 15 dogs at a time.
If you’re looking to begin hosting canine guests, Jerrier has four tips for creating dog-friendly dining experiences.
Start with the city.
“The first thing you want to do is find out whether or not the city or town where your restaurant is located has a pet-friendly patio ordinance. We’ve opened a couple of locations in smaller suburbs of Dallas that didn’t have any pet-friendly provisions in their city code. We’ve found, however, that smaller cities are really willing to work with you to create new rules and regulations. They are looking to create gathering places in their towns — and most people either have pets or love them!” Check with your landlord as well. “Make sure they’re okay with having pets on their property.”
Follow the rules.
“There are usually specific rules about waste disposal, pet hair cleaning, staff interaction with pets, patio cleaning schedule, etcetera. We usually find that they are not too overbearing.”
Throw some shade.
Jerrier notes, “Once you get the okay to have pets on your patio, you need to make sure you have some shade available to keep the dogs cool during the summer!”
Design with hygiene in mind.
“You also really want to make sure that you design your patio or dog-friendly area with a good, cleanable surface like concrete or turf. Gravel or wood decking make it difficult to clean up accidents. We don’t have many accidents, but you don’t want your patio to stink.”
Not every restaurant is able to host dog guests, but chef Patrick O’Connell has his latest rescue buddy on site, acting as a four-legged greeter for visitors to the gorgeous Inn at Little Washington. He says, “The Inn at Little Washington has had a long history with Dalmatian mascots. Our kitchen uniforms were inspired by the most famous one whose name was Rose. Almost 20 years after her demise, we’re still wearing Dalmatian spotted aprons.” Over time, O’Connell has taken in a series of rescues, each, he notes, “with their own special needs and challenges,” but when the last of them moved on, he took a decade-long break until he felt emotionally prepared to take the plunge once again.
Enter Luray, a three-year-old named for the nearby town where he was living. “He’s a three-year-old heartthrob — a beautifully spotted little boy who still has a lot of puppy in him,” according to O’Connell. The bond was instantaneous and intense on both sides. “The whole kitchen, wearing their spots, turned out to welcome him, and he knew he was in his forever home. He’s almost always at my feet,” he reveals.
The acclaimed chef believes that a dog’s presence is the ideal icebreaker. “The restaurant immediately feels more like a home with a dog at the door — and that’s the feeling we strive to convey. Fortunately, Luray loves people and is a ham, so he eats up the attention and all the photo taking. We still can’t decide who’s luckier, but even though he often enjoys Kobe beef and rice with vegetables for dinner, we think we got the long end of the stick in this deal.”
Photo credits: Jeff Amador (Cane Rosso); The Inn at Little Washington.