The Pros and Cons of Running a Dog-Friendly Restaurant

Have you considered opening a dog-friendly restaurant?

If so, you’re not alone. As more millennials choose pets over babies, pet-friendly restaurants are becoming a restaurant industry trend. With more restaurants expanding their outdoor seating to cater to social distancing, it wouldn’t be too hard to open up your patio to dogs too.

Are restaurants that allow dogs all they’re cracked up to be? Or are the problems too big to overlook?

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of having a dog-friendly restaurant, plus some tips for making it a success.

Benefits of a Dog-Friendly Restaurant

Having a restaurant full of adorable dogs just sounds like fun. Who doesn’t want to bring their beloved pet to dinner or eat dinner surrounded by cute dogs? Here are some benefits to having a dog-friendly restaurant.

  • 44% of Americans own dogs. That’s a good portion of the population! Many of them are actively seeking places that allow them to bring their dog inside, so this may be the perfect way to enhance the customer experience.
  • It’s a fantastic way to increase foot traffic. Foot traffic is a critical component of a thriving restaurant. A dog-friendly patio can bring in people walking by who want to stop and see the dogs. It’s also a great way to pull in people who are walking dogs. If they know they can bring their dog inside, why not stop in for a quick refreshment?
  • Restaurants that allow dogs have more opportunities for sales. You can easily add dog-specific items to your menu to bring in extra cash. Plus, having a dog-friendly or pet-friendly label allows you to advertise in places that cater specifically to dog owners. These advertising opportunities and new menu items increase your income earning potential.

These are just a few of the advantages of a dog-friendly restaurant. What are some of the downsides?

The Downsides to Restaurants that Allow Dogs

Now, there are some downsides to owning a dog-friendly restaurant, too. It wouldn’t be fair to leave those out. While opening up your restaurant to dogs can bring in customers, it can also turn them away. Some customers are allergic or won’t want to dine in an establishment where dogs are present.

Beyond that, there’s no getting around the occasional disruption or mess. Some dogs can be rowdy. Others aren’t as housebroken as their owners claim. These things can result in messes or situations that you and your employees will have to handle.

Also, you’ll need to be really strict about sanitation and cleaning so that your customers aren’t wary of finding dog hair in their food or drinks. Employees will need to wash their hands every single time they pet a dog—which can be difficult when there are so many adorable dogs around!

Thankfully, you can minimize the downsides with the right preparation.

Pro tip: If you want to avoid some of these downsides, consider just having a dog-friendly patio instead. This allows you to cater to dog owners and people who don’t want to dine with dogs.

How to Make Your Dog-Friendly Restaurant a Success 

If you’re ready to open a dog-friendly restaurant, there are several tried-and-true techniques for making it a success.

  1. Sanitation and logistics: Get clear about cleaning schedules and responsibilities, and develop action plans for any negative scenarios that could arise.
  2. Advertising: Spread the word about your restaurant on dog-friendly apps and websites like BringFido and PetFriendlyRestaunts.com.
  3. Create a Dog-Friendly Menu: Starbucks and Shake Shack famously have options for pups. Many dog-friendly cafes have taken it a step further with complete menus devoted to their dog patrons. This can include a dog-friendly breakfast menu, lunch menu, dinner menu, and more.

These are just a few ideas to make your foray into owning a dog-friendly restaurant a success. Restaurants that allow dogs have some clear advantages, including the opportunity to generate more revenue.

Want to learn how to use our powerful online menu software to create your dog-friendly menu? Contact us for a free demo today!

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